Aclaris has successfully completed Phase 2 trials of their JAK inhibitor-based treatment for alopecia areata. In the detail of their notes is the tease that JAK Inhibitors bring the promise of hair growth.
Janus Kinane (JAK) Inhibitors
The use of JAK inhibitors in medicine is a wonderful example of how 21st C research is starting to change how we approach health. So here is our attempt to offer a ‘simple’ explanation of exactly how JAKs work.
A few vital bodily processes are underpinned by a communication system called the JAK-STAT pathway. This system uses chemical signals to send messages to proteins, which in turn activate genes to perform certain tasks. These include cell division and immunity. JAK inhibitors can be used to disrupt these signals and treat a range of conditions.
Of course, this has to be done very carefully, if things go wrong the results might be disastrous. Disruptions to that JAK-STAT pathway are responsible for issues with immunity and the growth of cancers. Not to forget hair loss, of the sort that most of us will experience in our lives, some sooner than others.
Great progress has been made with JAK’s in just the last few years. We are now able to target them very specifically and reduce, almost to zero, the danger of side effects. Beyond their possible use in the fight against hair loss, they are already approved for use for a small number of conditions. Beyond that, they are under consideration for use in the fight against a host of skin and autoimmune diseases.
Success In Phase 2 Trial
The news of this successful Phase 2 trial came hot on the heels of some less great news regarding the trial results for another of the Aclaris hopefuls. Another version of the treatment had failed to treat alopecia areata. The successful version, ATI 501, was an oral drug that produced positive results while showing no side effects.
The news came as no great surprise. Aclaris have done an effective job of flagging their milestones as they worked through all the stages, including this one. Who can forget their impressive hairy mice picture? Many will have no doubt thought that mice are not humans and there is a big step still to take. While that may be true, that was human skin growing implanted hair follicles on the backs of those mice.
Hair Growth Promise
One of the lead researchers on the project had mentioned one unexpected observation in her notes. Patients treated for alopecia areata with the topical version had been seen to accelerate hair growth outside the targetted area but where the medicine had been applied.
She was impressed enough to set up a company to develop a hair growth product, aimed primarily at women judging by her comments to the press.
HIS Hair Clinic
Aclaris is currently seeking a partner to take their JAK inhibitor program forward. We sincerely hope their results encourage someone to step up soon. In the meantime, we will just have to keep an eye out for that hair growth product.
To see the full Aclaris announcement click here.
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