MadSci Network: Biochemistry

Re: Is it possible to change naturally curly hair to permanently straight hair?

Date: Tue Feb 8 13:46:25 2000
Posted By: Bettye Smith, Staff, Biophysics, Univeristy of California
Area of science: Biochemistry
ID: 949880879.Bc


Hi Brian,

With the advent of gene therapy, anything is possible with respect to genetics, I suppose. By this, I mean that if you could turn off the gene for curly hair, and turn on the gene for straight hair, you could conceivably have permanently straight hair. But, be careful, you might turn on the gene for baldness or hair color!

But, in nature, we do not have the ability to change our appearance, except artificially (e.g. hair dyes, perms, contact lenses). To quote from the Leslie Troppe:

"Noone has had the chance to ask for blonde or brown hair, be tall or short, have blue or brown eyes. We can change some of these things through contact lenses, dying our hair, or other artificial substances. I would also like to stress that even though everyone may look different on the outside, we all possess the same basic physiological construction and it is our genetic material which gives us our individuality."

Bettye L. Smith


Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute; "Where did that curly hair come from?"

NIH assessment on gene therapy

Bioethics literature on human gene therapy

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