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SA researcher responsible for "biggest breakthrough in SA dermatology"

Professor Ncoza Dlova, Dean of Clinical Medicine at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, is winning worldwide praise after she helped discover a new gene that is a major cause of permanent hair loss amongst women of African descent.

Dlova, an internationally renowned dermatologist collaborated with scientists in the US to discover the root cause of Central Centrifugal Cicatricial Alopecia (CCCA), one of the most common causes of scarring alopecia amongst African women.

CCCA is defined as hair loss or spot balding that starts from the central (crown) part of the scalp and radiates outward in a circular pattern. CCCA causes the destruction of the hair follicles leading to scarring and permanent hair loss.

"It is very common amongst women of African descent," Prof Dlova said. "The root cause of this condition has always been elusive and alluded to the use of damaging chemical products on the hair as well as the application of heat brushes, hot combs or straighteners. It has often been confused with female pattern hair loss or common baldness which is a completely different entity."

Dlova said that the discovery is "probably the biggest breakthrough in South African Dermatology".

""This discovery is a first in the world, and it followed links to my earlier publication of 2013, in which I reported for the first time a familial association in a cluster of black South African families with CCCA and have been following the 15 families for 5 years, and 7 years later a gene has been identified.

"This has huge implications on early diagnosis, prevention and possible future targeted therapy of CCCA," she said.

Prof Dlova was one of the first two African female Dermatologists to qualify from South Africa. She has subsequently trained 20 other African dermatologists and supervised 15 MMed Sci and Masters students.

Her passion for teaching and good leadership has culminated in her receiving the best teacher and leader awards in her department.

She is a member of the International Society of Dermatology (ISD) and serves as an Executive member for the Maria Duran Fellowship subcommittee, member of the Dermatology Society of South Africa, Senior Examiner, Convener and member of the SA College of Dermatologists, American Women’s Dermatology Society.

She is also an Executive member of the African Society of Dermatology and Venereology (ASDV) and was quite instrumental and active in the formation of the ASDV (2016). She was the President of the successful and 1st International Dermatology Congress (CCD) held in South Africa under the auspices of the intenational society of dermatology.

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