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14 theSun | MONDAY JANUARY 5 2009

news without borders

S. Lanka
separatist
conflict
far from
over, say
Gene link to rare cause of baldness
PARIS: Scientists say they have pinned
down a DNA mechanism that gives rise
Children with MUHH have sparse
or no hair at birth, followed by wiry or
kind of mini-protein – that in turn affects
a previously-identified protein called the
follicles and thus greater likelihood of this
kind of baldness.
analysts to a rare but distressing form of baldness coarse hair in childhood but progressively human hairless monolog, or HR, which The study, published online yesterday
pg 16 that strikes before adulthood. lose it at puberty. is crucial for the regeneration of hair in the journal Nature Genetics, offers
Flaws in a gene called U2HR are to Researchers led by Xue Zhang of the follicles. a potential target for drugs that would
blame for a condition called Maria Unna Peking Union Medical College in Beijing Sifting through the genome of 19 Chi- block this pathway, offering the hope that
hereditary hypotrichosis, or MUHH, found that U2HR, located on Chromosome nese families with a history of MUHH, youngsters who inherit the mutations will
named after the German trichologist who 8, acts as a key switch in the process. the team found mutations of U2HR led to one day keep their hair, say the authors.
identified the problem. U2HR controls a small peptide – a increased levels of HR, the death of hair – AFP

Pet dogs pay price as


recession hits Hongkong
HONGKONG: The recession isn’t just affecting process was ongoing could cost up to HK$35,000
people in Hongkong: it’s also having an impact on (RM16,200), she said.
animals as dogs are left behind by departing expa- “It’s a lot of money, especially for a family that
triates, a relocation company said yesterday. no longer has an income coming in and doesn’t
Jenny Wong, manager of ReloPet, said her know if it will have any income when it gets back
company had seen a 400% increase in business home,” she said.
in the past 12 months as more expatriates are laid Stacy Tucker, who runs Hongkong’s Ferndale
off and said many dogs were being left behind. Kennels and Cattery, said she had seen a steady
“We have seen a massive increase in people increase in people seeking to take their pets out
and pets moving out of Hongkong because of this of Hongkong with them because of the credit
financial tsunami,” she said. crunch.
Wong said the number of people of leaving “It’s people who haven’t considered they will
had risen sharply since October. “In December be leaving who are getting caught out and there
alone we had 40 new jobs. A year before, we were are quite a lot of them, especially in the banking
getting fewer than 10 bookings a month. sector.”
“They are being uprooted the next day and with Sally Andersen who runs Hongkong Dog Res-
pets, it’s really difficult especially when they’re cue said her shelter was “totally inundated” with
going to Australia or the UK. Some countries need people seeking homes for unwanted pets. “I’m
six months advance preparation.” getting so many calls now it’s difficult. I get about
Taking a large dog back to a country like Aus- 10 calls a day,” she said. “We are already well over
tralia and paying for its boarding fees while the our limit. – dpa