Hair care provider offers genetic tests for baldness

By Katie Bird

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Genetics, Dna

Hair and scalp care product provider Nioxin Research Laboratories
now offers an at-home genetic test to determine the likelihood of
developing male pattern baldness.

The test is available through the company's website for $149 and offers the test 'as part of its next generation effort in introducing scientifically proven scalp and hair products'. At-home genetic tests - otherwise known as direct to consumer tests - are becoming increasingly popular as DNA sequencing technology progresses. However, such tests remain controversial and critics worry that results may not always be scientifically valid. A genetic test is the first step in treating baldness ​ Atlanta-based Nioxin has teamed up with HairDX a biotech startup company to offer the test to its consumers. According to HairDX the genetic test is the first step in treating future baldness. "Gaining a better understanding of the potential cause of an individual's condition enables a more accurate assessment of the most appropriate solution,"​ added Nioxin founder Eva Graham. Nioxin offers consumers a range of treatment systems to help the appearance of thinning hair. Each system is designed for a particular hair type and level of hair loss and includes a cleanser, a conditioning product and a scalp treatment. The Androgen receptor gene ​ According to HairDX scientists have only found one gene that correlates with pattern baldness - the androgen receptor gene. "Men who carry a specific Androgen Receptor gene variant are at 60 per cent risk of going bald by the age of 40"​ stated the company. HairDX's test analyses the specific variant of the gene carried by males, although a female version of the test is planned for the future. At-home genetic tests ​ However, tests such as that offered by HairDX and others that investigate an individual's chances of developing a specific medical condition are not without controversy. Concerns surrounding the use of at-home genetic tests range from worries over the reliability of the results and their interpretation to concerns over the protection of a consumers DNA. The Federal Trade Commission that works to protect American consumers state that: "The FDA and the CDC [​Center for Disease Control and Prevention] say that because of the complexities involved in both the testing and the interpretation of the results, genetic tests should be performed in a specialized laboratory, and the results should be interpreted by a doctor or trained counselor who understands the value of genetic testing for a particular situation."​ Although the invalid or misinterpreted results of a baldness test may be less damaging to the consumer than a test promising to investigate risks of cancer, unsound science is still a concern. In addition, consumers may be right to fear the privacy of their personal genetic information. When commenting on a personalised fragrance product My DNA Fragrance Sheldon Krimsky, acting president of the US Council for Responsible Genetics, told Cosmetics Design that "people don't seem to understand the importance of their privacy and their DNA"​ likening the security dangers to publicising your unique bank account number.

Related topics: Formulation & Science

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