HEADLINES Published March8, 2016 By Beatrice Asuncion

Scientists Discover the Gene that Turns Hair Grey

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old people
(Photo : Bethany Clarke | Getty Images News)

The average life span of human beings has significantly increased over the last few centuries. Because of the advancement in medical technology, the average life span went from 31 in the 1900s to more than double at 67.2 in 2010.

Since people in general now live longer, symptoms of ageing have been more frequently observed. According to research, by age 50 many men are already affected by balding and most women enter menopause. At 60, osteoarthritis becomes prevalent while at 70 partial hearing lose affect more than 65% of the age group. Eventually, at 85 people lose their muscle mass and mobility.

Despite a handful of studies, many aspects of ageing remain a mystery. Fortunately, it seems like scientist from University College London might have finally uncovered the reason behind one of the most common sign of ageing - greying hair.

Recently, researchers from the University College London confirmed their discovery of the gene that turns hair grey. In their announcement, the team revealed that the called IRF4 is responsible for regulating melanin which is responsible for the pigmentation in a person's skin, eyes and hair. They analyzed DNA from more than 6,300 people from five Latin American countries namely Brazil, Colombia, Chile, Mexico and Peru that have a combination of European, Native American and African Ancestry. The researchers have since concluded that the IRF4 is the reason for human hair turning gray in old age.

"This is really the first study on the genetics of hair graying in humans," gushed Kaustubh Adhikari a statistical geneticist from the University College London.

The researchers have since gushed about the significance of their discovery. According to them, in identifying the root cause of greying hair it would be easier to develop a treatment that can prevent and reverse the symptom of old age. 

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