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Curly Hair Gene Discovered 2009-12-07 10:59:08

Scientists Have Found the Curly Hair Gene

An Australian team of scientists has found that a gene known as trichohyalin is responsible for determining whether your hair is straight or curly. Now it's possible to tell what kind of hair suspects who leave DNA at a crime scene have, determine a baby's hair type while she's still in the womb, and perhaps even develop medications that change hair texture without perms or straighteners.

While the first application would seem to be the most important, a lot of emphasis is being placed on the last one — more specifically on making curly hair straight without using relaxers or irons. Am I the only one who feels a little weird that one of the first applications people have leaped on is a completely unnecessary pill that suppresses your genes? Straightening your hair for different looks can be fun, but straight-haired girls like to go curly, too, and there was no mention of a "make me curly" pill. What do you think? Would a pill like this be a godsend for chronic straighteners, or is it an example of societal bias against curly hair?

Image Source: Getty
Join The Conversation
CosmeticDivah CosmeticDivah 7 years
This is clearly too much, and once again "MAN" going to far with science.
There are so many racial cultural connotations in this article. But for me, the very implication that women would take a pill to forever alter their natural tresses as though curly or kinky hair is some type of disease that needs to be cured is just sad
shaima shaima 7 years
i have bad curly hair bu no matter what, i'm not changing my genes. crazy!
Yogaforlife Yogaforlife 7 years
It pays a lot of money to do research for large corporations such as Johnson & Johnson and Proctor and Gamble. I'll never forget when I was graduating, they came to my grad school looking for scientists and engineers to come do research for them. They can pay way more in the way of salaries and funding of research than those working at the university or non-profit levels can, hence why there will always be an exodus of good scientists/engineers going to big corporations, lured by the pursuit of wealth. I think it's interesting in the context of DNA analysis at crime scenes, but don't think it's worthy of research into a pill. That said, who ever would develop the magical curly-to-straight pill would make so much profit since so many people would be willing to pay for it. Thus the incentive into needless cosmetic research.
bittie bittie 7 years
obviously, there is a lot to consider here, so just to judge the product in and of itself i will give my thoughts separate of the social implications of straight hair preference or the issue of whether it's responsible to devote medical research and development to cosmetic projects rather than much more worthy causes. to be honest, if a pill were developed and it turned out to be harmless (or as harmless as any man-made supplement can be) after rounds and rounds of testing, i would probably consider taking a curly-to-straight hair pill. i only say this because now i am stuck in the vicious cycle of using a chemical relaxer, blow drying, and straightening--and i would be more than happy to break out of it. while i do know that there's nothing wrong with my hair's natural texture, i've favored straight hair since i started getting relaxers, and my thoughts are that if i'm going to wear my hair straight anyway, i'd love to get the look without the $$$ of regular chemical treatments, the time and pain of drying and straightening, and the damage the combination can do to my hair if i'm not careful.
mie-p mie-p 7 years
i have kinky/nappy hair and i love it! it's something that i share with my mother, aunt, cousins and grandmother. learning how to take care of my kinky hair from my mother, my friends and I doing one another's hair in our dorm rooms, all of the contraptions and oils and treatments that i use to nourish and care for my kinky hair, this is part of my culture and my heritage and i couldn't image wanting a pill to get rid of all of that.
genesisrocks genesisrocks 7 years
I have wavy/curly hair and I love ringlets! Of course scientists are gonna use this research to make money
postmodernsleaze postmodernsleaze 7 years
I don't like this. Let's stop perpetuating a narrow definition of beauty instead of trying to genetically modify our looks. Geez. And to reiterate what already has been mentioned-- can't we fund something more important?
jjasinsk jjasinsk 7 years
Hair, like skin, is a polygenic trait (it properties are influenced by multiple genes). There are actually a few other genes at the moment that have proposed effects on hair texture. It's really difficult to create a gene therapy when more than one gene contributes to the same phenotype, so don't expect a magic pill any time soon :( I think this is another example of the media taking an interesting discovery and running with it to create hype.
julieulie julieulie 7 years
I just find the thought of someone researching this SO depressingly sad. Never mind society expectations for straight hair... I am a biochemist in a research lab studying a pediatric cancer, and funding for pediatric oncology is practically non-existent. We can't get the money to develop new drugs to save the lives of children, but I am sure someone will shell out to start research on a drug to make curly hair straight? Disgusting. Not to mention that every medication has side effects... I cannot imagine being vain enough to cause other actual legitimate health risks to myself just to avoid blowing out my hair.
esweet esweet 7 years
There are so many more important things that science could be focusing on than this!
chillchic chillchic 7 years
Since I have curly hair, I'm sure my future child(ren) will as well, and no we won't be doing any procedures to stop nature from occurring.
weffie weffie 7 years
I think it's more styling hassles than a societal bias, because really curly hair can be a pain. However, I hear more complaints from friends about their flat, limp hair than I hear whining from curly-haired friends. I have in-between wavy hair and I'd kill for ringlets, I think a "make me curly" pill sounds better :)
Shev3237586 Shev3237586 7 years
Very bias. I have so many more options than if it were just straight
wassy988 wassy988 7 years
I agree. Altering your genes to change your hair is something that is just unnecessary, and frankly, a little scary. I have curly hair, and although it's not my friend some days, I would never go to those extremes. This is a fascinating story though. Who would have thought?
gaulearnedimp gaulearnedimp 7 years
I'd love to see natural hair come back into fashion. Back when the Sex and the City movie came out, I looked around the theater and realized that every single head around me was flat-ironed.
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