The Washington PostThe Washington Post

Humans still have the genes for a full coat of body hair

By Mark Johnson

24 Jan 2023 · 5 min read

Editor's Note

The Washington Post reports on research which has revealed that the "full coat of hair" genes are not gone but muted. The findings may pave the way for treating conditions from baldness to cancer

Roughly a million years ago human beings lost most of their body hair, a key moment in evolution that involved major changes to the same set of genes that determined whether many of our fellow mammals kept or lost their coatings of fur, according to new research.

The study, published in the journal eLife, compared our genetic blueprints with those of 62 other mammals, including elephants, manatees and armadillos, examining how hairlessness evolved in different species at different times. The work also identified new genes and gene regulators linked to body hair, a discovery that may someday be used to treat millions of balding Americans.

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