Like many other great breakthroughs and discoveries in medical science, sometimes when you don’t get the results you’re looking for you stumble on something that surpasses your greatest expectations. That maybe the case with a new study coming out of Columbia.


According to an associate professor from Johns Hopkins School of Medicine named Dr. Luis Garza preliminary tests and research on these new drugs may contain the ability to spark hair growth.


“The ultimate potential is a very effective topical product to rub on the scalp to help with all types of hair loss,” said Dr. Garza. “More week needs to be done to translate these findings to a product with can be tested in a clinical trial on people.” Currently the results from hair growth have come from animal testing, mice specifically.


The research has been conducted by a team from New York City’s Columbia University, and is lead by the study’s co-author Angela Christiano, an associate professor of molecular dermatology.


The drugs in the spotlight are called tofacitinib (used to treat rheumatoid arthritis) and ruxolitinib (used to treat various forms of blood cancers). The drugs have been tested as both an oral and topical agent, however, testing has suggested that the use of a topical cream may limit the possibility of side effects from these drugs.



How does this drug work?



Often times, hair loss is caused by the hair follicles going into a dormant state and failing to repeat growth cycles, leaving the final hair follicle to simply not be replaced once it’s shed or cut. What researchers have discovered with these drugs is that they can jump-start the growth process, inducing a new growth cycle while simultaneously extending the growth phase in human follicles. This all happens due to the direct effect the drugs have on the hair follicles’s dermal stem cells.


While this is shaping up to be great news, Yale University’s professor of dermatology Dr. Brett King suggests that the initial results may not be all that they’re cracked up to be. “Hair growth,” Dr. King explains, “is different from hair loss. The factors that bear on growth may or may not bear on hair loss.” He questions if the study will find that drugs will be able to help people who’s hair follicles have degenerated. The study has yet to find that these drugs are able to do that.


What’s next.



Research will carry on at Columbia University by Christiano and her team. Results for the oral application of the drugs both seem to suggest that they be able to treat alopecia areata. The team will begin research looking for the same results, but in a topical form.


For more information, checkout the published study in the Oct. 23rd issue of Science Advances.



By Ian Watson


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