What if you no longer had to dye your hair black as you age?

Scientists have made a breakthrough as they have discovered the gene responsible for turning hair grey.

The study which was conducted by a team of researchers led by Andrés Ruiz-Linares from University College London found that the gene, IRF4 which has been known to be responsible for hair colour has now been linked with the production and storage of melanin. To conduct the study, the researchers analysed 6,357 DNA samples, 45% male and 55% female, with the volunteers from Brazil, Colombia, Chile, Mexico and Peru.

Melanin is the pigment that determines the colour of your hair, eyes and skin, and a lack of it causes hair to turn grey. The scientists having found the gene IRF4 responsible for turning hair grey, now hopes to understand the role it plays in the greying process, and by discovering its role, they would be able to develop new treatments to slow down the effects of ageing. According to Andrés Ruiz-Linares, “Understanding the mechanism of IRF4 greying association could also be relevant for developing ways to delay hair greying”.

From the study, it’s safe to say that while the IRF4 may not be the only gene responsible for the greying of hair, understanding the role it plays could help with the treatment.

The study was published in the journal Nature Communications, and its lead author was Dr Kaustubh Adhikari.