A new study seems to suggest a form of treatment for individuals who are suffering from a special condition of disfiguring hair loss. According to this new study, a drug which is used for treating rheumatoid arthritis may enable hair to regrow.
The hair loss condition taken under consideration for the purpose of this study is called Alopecia areata. It is an autoimmune ailment that leads to the occurrence of patchy or even complete hair loss in individuals. Such hair loss includes a person’s head, eyelashes, eyebrows, and the rest of the body.
The results of the current study showed that more than 50% of a total of 66 patients that were treated with a drug named Xeljanz (tofacitinib citrate) observed regrowth of hair in three months. According to the lead researcher of the study, Dr. Brett King, who is an assistant professor of dermatology at the Yale School of Medicine (New Haven, Conn.), the current results gives hope of better treatment for individuals instead of being suggested by doctors to wear a wig and get counseling.
The researchers say that the drug, Xeljanz, seems to function by preventing the immune system from attacking the hair follicles. The researchers have also identified genes that may help them in order to predict how a patient will respond to the treatment. There is still doubt regarding whether or not Xeljanz will also help people with common types of hair loss (for example, male pattern baldness), owing to the fact that such hair loss isn’t due to an autoimmune disease. It was noted by Dr. King that there is uncertainty related to how long the drug-induced hair growth will last and how long an individual will have to keep on taking medication. There is a possibility that individuals being treated longer might enable the condition to enter remission.
Coming to the specifics of this study, participants were treated with 5 milligrams of Xeljanz two times per day for a duration lasting three months. During the course of the study it was observed that more than 50% of the participants saw some of their hair regrow, while more than half of the lost head hair was regrown by one-third of the individuals. Side effects were experienced but they were quite mild.
The current study was published in the journal JCI Insight.
Dr. King hopes that the current results will be looked at by a big pharmaceutical company and a much larger trial will be sponsored in order to get approval from the FDA for the use of Xeljanz. Getting such an approval will help 4 to 11 million U.S. citizens suffering from alopecia areata.
The current results have also gained the attention of other dermatologists. Dr. Kathy Burris, an assistant professor of dermatology at Northwell Health in Manhasset, New York, said that she found the results from the trial to be quite exciting. She understands how frustrating alopecia areata can be for individuals suffering from it. Dr. Burris also noted that mixed outcomes are observed through the implementation of current treatment methods.
Dr. Doris Day, a dermatologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, said that this autoimmune disease can occur at any age and prove to be devastating for the afflicted person. She said that the use of Xeljanz shows positive results in people having five or even more years of hair loss.
While further research is needed, especially when it comes to treatment of children with such a drug, dermatologists are hopeful that an effective cure will soon be developed.