Gene newly identified by Columbia researchers may improve hair removal

hers we identified are software genes. Both the hardware and the software are essential for normal hair growth.

All three genes could have roles in gene therapy designed for hair removal both permanent and temporary - Dr. Christiano says. Such treatments would involve rubbing lotions or gels into the skin to inhibit hair growth. Remarkably, hair growth is a medical problem for which people want treatment on both sides of the spectrum (too much and too little) and, Dr. Christiano says, is of interest to both men and women.

One such treatment strategy will be to use products containing ribozymes or antisense RNAs. These are molecules tailor-made to stick tightly to specific messenger RNA molecules that translate the gene into working bodily materials. By binding to the RNA in this way, the antisense molecule inactivates it, and thus the protein it encodes will not be made.

One of the regulatory genes discovered in Dr. Christianos laboratory appears to have such an important role in hair cycling that even inactivating it in a given area stops hair growth permanently in mice, Dr. Christiano says.

According to Columbia Universitys technology transfer unit, Science & Technology Ventures, a start-up company, Skinetics Bioscience LLC, will form to develop hair-growth and hair-removal products and conduct clinical trials based on the findings from Dr. Christianos laboratory. Researchers envision starting clinical trials for hair removal by mid-winter.


Contact: Leslie Boen
Columbia University Medical Center

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