A team from China Agricultural University has identified the genetic cause of hereditary baldness. Hair loss would be the gene that codes for the Map2 protein, the architect of our hair. When the gene doesn't code as it should, the hair thins out and starts falling out. Thanks to the discovery, in the future we will perhaps be able to stop the whole process.
The researchers used pigs as models, being animals with a biology similar to that of humans. To this end, they selected both specimens with alopecia and specimens without this problem. They compared the follicles in the two groups, thus discovering that the second ones had far greater follicle density. After that, they went on to analyze the genetic differences in the two types of specimens.
Thanks to DNA sequencing, scientists have identified a genetic mutation found only in pigs with alopecia. The animals in question showed an anomaly within the gene that codes for the Map2 protein. The malfunction of the protein causes the thinning of the follicles during the development of the embryo. The remaining follicles fail to develop in the right way, which results in weaker hair and subject to falling out.
The study in question links Map2 protein to follicle formation for the first time. Further studies could lead to "fix" the abnormal protein, effectively treating baldness. Genetic editing techniques could be used to repair the damaged gene, stimulating the development of new follicles. Until then, however, you will have to be patient.