A US biotech firm has announced a genetic test kit that predicts the likelihood of baldness in men and can be ordered over the Internet, the company said Tuesday.

Men interested in finding out if they are genetically predisposed to losing their hair before age 40 can order the kit online for 149 dollars, take a swab sample from inside the mouth and send it to the lab, HairDX said in a statement.

The company then checks the DNA sample for a variation to the X-chromosome which with 95.1 to 98.1 percent accuracy can predict androgenic alopecia, or male pattern baldness. Once the test is complete, customers can retrieve the results via secure connection to the company's web site.

"Looking at your father's or grandfather's head has been an inaccurate, nonscientific barometer," said Peter Novak, a researcher at the University of Massachusetts medical center.

The CEO of the startup company, Andy Goren, said it aims to save consumers money, not to promote any "miracle" product that promises to cure the condition.

"Each year, men in their 20s and 30s spend millions of dollars on pharmaceuticals, topical products, and other costly treatments trying to prevent baldness," Goren said.

"Some of this is done by males who may not go bald in the first place."

WASHINGTON, Jan 15, 2008 (AFP)


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