Baldness may actually start during childhood. Photo: Getty Images

If you're losing your hair, here is further evidence to blame your family.

Researchers from Columbia, Rockefeller and Stanford Universities have identified a new gene involved in hair loss.

As reported in the April 15 issue of Nature, the gene, called APCDD1, has been linked with a form of hair loss called hereditary hypotrichosis simplex, which typically starts in childhood and affects up to 200,000 people. During this time, the hair follicles shrink and narrow, turning what once was a full head of thick hair into "peach fuzz".

The good news? The discovery of the APCDD1 gene may mean we are one step closer to finding new and improved treatments for male pattern baldness and other types of hair loss.

"The identification of this gene underlying hereditary hypotrichosis simplex has afforded us an opportunity to gain insight into the process of hair follicle miniaturization, which is most commonly observed in male pattern hair loss or androgenetic alopecia," researcher Angela M. Christiano, PhD, professor of dermatology and genetics and development at Columbia University Medical Center, stated in a news release.

The research also found that the gene inhibits a signaling pathway -- the Wnt pathway -- once thought to be responsible for turning hair growth "on" and "off" in mice. But now, this pathway has now been found in humans as well -- a discovery that opens up more treatment options for baldness.

"We have at last made a connection between Wnt signaling and human hair disease that is highly significant," says Christiano. "And unlike commonly available treatments for hair loss that involve blocking hormonal pathways, treatments involving the Wnt pathway would be non-hormonal, which may enable many more people suffering from hair loss to receive such therapies."

Are manipulating our genes the only way to cure baldness? Take a look at another theory.