According to The Register, scientists at the Peking Union Medical College in Beijing may have discovered the gene responsible for hypertrichosis, or the “werewolf disorder”. Over the course of four years, geneticist Xue Zhang and his team scanned the DNA of over two dozen people who have congenital generalized hypertrichosis terminalis (CGHT). Zhang’s team discovered that each of the subjects share a mutation near the SOX9 gene, which controls hair growth. Further research is required to discover whether this is a coincidence or if there’s an actual connection, but it’s an interesting bit of news nevertheless.
The Telegraph is running an article about an 11-year-old boy with hypertrichosis, and the efforts of New York’s Columbia University to find an effective method of treatment for his ailment. Prithviraj Patil is one of an estimated 50 people in the world who have congenital hypertrichosis, or “werewolf syndrome”– a condition that causes heavy hair growth on the face and upper body, and results in a werewolf-like appearance. Despite his condition, Pirthviraj is “healthy, sporty and popular at school”– a regular kid, in other words. Alas, the world being full of judgemental dicks as it is, Pirthviraj suffers at the hands of others for his appearance, and he and his family have tried everything from homeopathy to laser surgery in an effort to make his apperance more conventional.
Enter Doctor Angela Christiano, an associate professor of molecular dermatology and genetics at Columbia University. Doctor Christiano her laboratory focus on the genetics and biology of hair loss. Their recent study of cases like Prithviraj’s have lead them to the first step in an effective treatment for hypertrichosis: injections of testosterone.
If you’re interested in learning more about Pirthviraj and other “wolf children”, check out the unfortunately-titled Discovery Channel documentary “My Shocking Story: Real Wolf Kids“.