photo: Chris Bee via Flickr

No, it’s not your kids that will transform your luxurious mane into thinning gray hair. While the sleep-deprived adventures in parenthood might make you feel like you’ve aged overnight, according to a new study balding and graying is all about genetics — and there may just be a cure on the horizon thanks to the findings.

Researchers at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center were actually studying a rare genetic disease that causes tumors to grow on nerves when they stumbled on the cause of baldness and graying hairs by accident. The researchers discovered that a protein called KROX20 becomes activated in the skin cells that become hair shafts. Those cells then produce another protein called stem cell factor (SCF), which is a key component of hair pigmentation, or hair color.

In the study conducted with mice, when the KROX20 protein was removed, the mice stopped growing hair and went bald, and when the SCF protein was removed, the mice’ hair turned white. The researchers will next try to determine if these genes stop working properly in humans as a result of aging.

“With this knowledge, we hope in the future to create a topical compound or to safely deliver the necessary gene to hair follicles to correct these cosmetic problems,” said Dr. Lu Le, Associate Professor of Dermatology with the Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer Center at UT Southwestern.

Are you hopeful about these findings? Share your thoughts in the comments.