Dyeing one's hair may no longer be the only option for keeping grey at bay, scientists said Tuesday in announcing the discovery of a gene that makes hair lose its luster.
The gene, IRF4, was known to affect colour, but a new study is the first to pinpoint its unique role in the inexorable transition to shades of grey.
Further research on precisely how IRF4 works could unlock techniques and treatments that slow or even halt that process, said the scientists.
"An initial avenue has to do with the role IRF4 could play in survival and maintenance of cells that make pigment," said Andres Ruiz-Linares, a professor at the University College London Genetics Institute who led the study.
Understanding how the gene interacts with other genes controling hair colour, for example, might yield cosmetic applications that block the fade to grey as hair grows in the follicle, he told AFP.
Setting aside unresolved ethical issues,