After plans for a similar trial had to be scrapped recently due to a lack of test subjects, scientists from the University of British Columbia, Canada, are recruiting adults for a trial looking at the efficacy of UVB excimer light on patients suffering from alopecia areata.

UVB excimer light

UVB excimer light has been proven to be beneficial in the treatment of conditions such as psoriasis and has a number of other indications in both dermatology and eye surgery. The research team is hoping to prove that the treatment can have benefits in stimulating hair growth in subjects with alopecia areata. In order to be eligible, subjects need to have a patch of hair loss on their head measuring at least 12 cm². Whilst previous studies have been conducted into the efficacy of UVB excimer light on alopecia areata, the UBC researchers claim the studies were not carried out in a controlled fashion and so certain other factors are not accounted for, meaning the results cannot provide conclusive proof that the treatment is effective – although the evidence does seem to point that way.

Alopecia areata

Alopecia areata treatmentAlopecia areata is an autoimmune disorder causing hair loss that is often sudden and can be either patchy or total (alopecia totalis refers to a form of the condition where the sufferer loses all the hair on his/her head and alopecia universalis causes hair loss on the head and body). The hair loss is often temporary but can be recurrent, and in some cases the hair is lost permanently. The condition causes hair follicles to halt the normal cycle of growth, remaining dormant until the body sends them a signal to resume hair production. Unfortunately, to date it is impossible to know when or even if this signal will be sent.

The trial

The proposed UBC trial will cover a much smaller number of participants than usual – just 18 adults aged 19+ – which the research team hopes will improve their chances of recruiting enough test subjects. The researchers will identify a patch of hair loss on each subject’s scalp and treat half of it, checking the progress of hair loss on each half at 6, 12 and 16 week intervals, with the aim of the study being to find out whether the UVB light treatment causes hair to grow at a faster rate than no treatment at all.



By Ian Watson


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