Two breakthrough studies have linked an arthritis drug (JAK inhibitors) with a cure for alopecia in humans. The studies spell exciting news and development for people who suffer with alopecia.
According to researchers from Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC), 75% of patients from a small sample group of 12 patients with moderate to severe alopecia areata noted significant regrowth of their hair after being treated with ruxolitinib.
We’ve reported previously on the positive impact of using ruxolitinib to regrow hair in mice, but now the trials on humans are showing similar promise, there is really something for the alopecia community to get excited about.
The CUMC trial results have been published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation/Insight and are backed up by a similar, separate, study from Yale and Stanford Universities.
What is alopecia areata?
Alopecia areata is an autoimmune disease affecting approximately 147 million men and women (at any age) where your immune system attacks hair follicles and results in hair loss. It can be a traumatic and devastating condition for those who have it.
The cause of alopecia areata is unknown, but is often the result of stress or trauma. It can leave patches of hair loss or thinning on the scalp or complete loss of all body hair. There are different types of Alopecia and treatments vary from steroid injections to Psoralen with ultraviolet A light therapy (PUVA).
How could these studies affect alopecia sufferers?
Both of these study results, positively tested on mice and now humans, are big news for the alopecia community.
In the CUMC study, the researchers found that drugs used to inhibit the Janus kinase enzymes (also known as JAK inhibitors) in patients of rheumatoid arthritis also help awaken dormant hair follicles for patients with alopecia areata.
In the study by the University of Yale and the University of Stamford, the experiment was based on a different JAK inhibitor to ruxolitinib, known as tofacitinib.
Again, the tests were carried out on patients whose alopecia areata was moderate to severe but this time a much larger group of 66 adults. Of this group, over half reported some regrowth and a third saw regrowth of over 50% after three months of taking the drug twice daily (5mg dose).
There’s still a long way to go with more clinical trials, but these results are promising for patients with alopecia areata who are desperate for a cure.