Scientists researching a treatment for blood cancer have uncovered a protein found in umbilical cord blood that may provide a new, breakthrough treatment to cure eczema, rheumatoid arthritis AND alopecia areata.
Alopecia areata is an autoimmune disease that causes hair loss. Sufferers most commonly lose patches of hair but in some cases all the hair on their head, known as alopecia totalis, and body, in the form of alopecia universalis, can fall out, sometimes quite suddenly.
Our immune systems are always hard at work, protecting the body from viruses or bacterias that invade the body. The problem occurs when it treats the hair follicles as foreign bodies, causing damage and eventual hair loss.
It usually presents as small, circular bald patches, characterised by very smooth skin. The hair loss is not necessarily permanent as the hair follicles are just damaged and not destroyed. Hair often regrows fully, but it can reoccur throughout life. Famous alopecia sufferers include TV presenter Gail Porter.
Hair loss can be devastating, particularly for women, and the discovery of this new treatment will be welcomed by alopecia sufferers the world over. Currently, there is no cure for hair loss through alopecia areata, although there are several available treatments to minimise the effects.
Those with alopecia areata often have other, associated autoimmune conditions. These include asthma, exzema, rheumatoid arthritis, hay fever, lupus, psoriasis, vitiligo and thyorid disease.
Eczema is a dry, itchy skin condition, often associated with alopecia areata, as alopecia sufferers tend to be more prone to the disease, although eczema is common among the general population. Although many creams are available to treat the symptoms of eczema, few are totally effective in resolving the underlying condition.
Rheumatoid arthritis affects around 400,000 people in the UK alone, causing crippling joint pain. It is a chronic disease causing inflammation of the joints, usually beginning between the ages of 40 and 50. The problem tends to get worse with increasing age, often requiring surgery in later life. The hands, feet and wrists are the parts of the body most commonly affected.
A potential cure?
All three of these conditions are caused by autoimmune problems, meaning that the body’s immune system begins to attack healthy cells. This new protein, which was discovered by researchers from the Anthony Nolan Trust when examining umbilical cord blood searching for a treatment for blood cancer, is used to stop the pregnant mother’s immune system from attacking the newborn baby, so is an ideal treatment for autoimmune problems.
Scientists say that a cream containing this protein could be available to test within three years, which will be welcome news to sufferers of alopecia areata, rheumatoid arthritis and eczema.
Unfortunately for men and women suffering from other forms of hair loss, the protein can only affect autoimmune diseases and cannot cure hereditary hair loss or hair loss or thinning due to stress or hormonal imbalances. For those with alopecia, however, news of a potential cure offers a promise of a return to normality.
Read the original article in the Mirror by clicking here