First approved for Arthritus back in 2012, the Pfizer drug Xeljanz was seen to have a remarkable effect on hair regrowth in patients suffering with alopecia areata and is now headed for clinical trial. We take a closer look.

A Eureka Moment For Alopecia Sufferers?

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When Yale University ran the first trials of Xeljianz, back in 2012, they were hoping to see an improvement in the condition of the arthritic patients on the trial. The results were successful enough to achieve FDA approval but something caught the eye of the researchers. Hair growth, some of it quite spectacular, was noted in a high proportion of the volunteers.

A small study was run, using 66 volunteers over a period of three months. The results were encouraging, 50 of the 66 patients saw hair regrowth within the three month timeframe. Believing the growth to be triggered by stopping the immune system attacking the follicles the research team were encouraged that they might have a solution for hair loss caused by autoimmune disorders, with Alopecia at the top of their list.

Dr Brell King, an assistant professor of dermatology at Yale School of Medicine in Connecticut, said “There is hope now that we have more to tell patients than get counselling and a wig”. Dr. King’s optimism was borne of the study results – Patients were treated with 5mg of Xeljanz twice a day, 50% of the patients saw some growth and a full third recovered more than half of the hair on their head.

So What Is The Catch?

Alopecia Areata

Alopecia is a devastating illness. It can strike at any age and comes in a variety of forms. Alopecia areata presents as patches, usually circular. Alopecia universalis involves the complete loss of all body hair. Current treatments are underwhelming in their efficacy, cortizone is injected directly into the scalp… it works as a general immunosuppressant.

While the early study of Xeljanz is exciting more work needs to be done to prove its safety before it can be considered as a treatment for alopecia, especially if it is to be sanctioned for use on children. A Phase 3 trial of the drug for its use on arthritus and psoriasis is scheduled of 2019. It will be aiming to answer critical questions around side-effects that might include serious infections and even cancer. Serious enough to block its introduction to Europe where it failed to be sanctioned.

HIS Hair Clinic

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It is great to read that there is work being done in the world’s greatest labs aimed at alleviating the suffering caused by hair loss. No doubt the road to putting a product on the shelf is a long one, not to mention expensive – So expensive in fact that it is almost exclusively the domain of large organisations.

We wish them plenty of success and hope that concerns around the side effects turn out to be red herrings… If Xeljanz does prove to be an effective treatment for an auto immune disease then it will have many applications and could prove to be an important advance.

There are plenty of avenues to explore in the meantime for alopecia sufferers. A free consultation with one of our experts will provide a great opportunity for you to explore the range of treatments already on the market. Find your nearest HIS Hair clinic by clicking here.

Our thanks go to WebMD.com for bringing this story to our attention, read the original article here

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By Ian Watson

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