- Alopecia areata
leads to hair loss in patches or in large clumps that could even lead to
total hair loss.
- It is an
auto-immune condition that has no known cure.
- Study utilizes
ruxolitinib, earlier used for bone marrow malignancies and tofacitinib,
earlier used for arthritis.
- 95% hair regrowth
witnessed among alopecia areata after the use of these drugs for 3 months.
Columbia University Medical center have provided strong evidence that drugs
meant for arthritis or bone marrow malignancies can now be used for hair
regrowth among patients with alopecia areata
The study showed that
there was a 92% chance of hair regrowth when the drug was tested among 12
patients. Separate studies with similar drug were conducted by researchers from
Stanford University and Yale University.
Director of the Clinical
Research unit in Columbia, Dr. Julian Mackay-Wiggan said "Although our study
was small, it provides crucial evidence that JAK inhibitors may constitute the
first effective treatment for people with alopecia areata. This is encouraging
news for patients who are coping with the physical and emotional effects of
this disfiguring autoimmune disease."
Alopecia areata is an
autoimmune disorder where the body's immune system fights against its own
cells, in this case the hair follicles, leading to the loss of hair
This condition occurs
both in males and in females, even children have been found to be affected. The
loss of hair
in patches could be a very small patch or it can lead to the loss
of total hair
, even on the eyebrows.
Though this condition is
not life threatening, the emotional implications are considerably huge, as an
individual's hair is considered their crowning glory.
There is no known cure
for this condition and the hair can never be fully restored. The study by the
Columbia University researchers would aid in improving the condition of such
patients, who will benefit emotionally from the restoration of hair.
Study of Ruxolitinib on
researchers used ruxolitinib
, which is a drug used for bone
marrow malignancies, on 12 patients with alopecia areata with more than 30% of
- Patients were
given 20mg of ruxolitinib twice daily for a period of 3 to 6 months.
- Patient follow up
was carried out for an additional 3 months.
- Hair regrowth was 50% or
- 77% of patients who responded to the
treatment showed 95% hair regrowth.
- A third of the patients had significant
hair loss after stoppage of the medication but not till the level of hair
loss prior to treatment.
Skin biopsy showed
- Lower level of
cytotoxic T cells
- Increased hair
Patients who did not
respond to treatment had lower levels of inflammatory markers, which can be
used as an indicator for responders and non responders.
Dr. Angela M. Christiano
who is the Professor of Genetics and Development at Columbia University Medical
Center said "We are very excited about the use of biomarkers to follow the
response of patients to this treatment. This will allow us to so monitor
improvements in their gene expression signatures even before hair growth
Study of Tofacitinib on
Researchers from Yale
University studied the effect of a medication for arthritis, tofacitinib, on
- 66 patients were
included in the study.
- 5mg of
tofacitinib was administered, two times a day for three months.
- More than 50% of
the patients witnessed hair regrowth.
witnessed greater than 50% of hair regrowth after a period of 3 months.
Dr. Brett A.
King and Dr. Brittany Craiglow from Yale University who designed the study said
"This study demonstrates the drug is effective for treating alopecia areata,"
Mechanism of Action
Columbia University identified the signaling pathways and immune cells that
were responsible for attacking the hair follicles and making them dormant. When
topical and oral Janus
Kinase family of inhibitors were introduced into mouse and human
hair follicles, the hair follicles regained their active state while the
signaling pathways were blocked.
There were minor side
effects that were caused due to the use of these drugs that included skin
infections, skin allergy and lowered hemoglobin levels that were reversed when
the dosage of the medications were adjusted.
These drugs hold a lot
of promise in the treatment of alopecia areata that has greatly affected the
self perception of many patients worldwide. The psychological ramifications of
this condition, far outreaches the physical implications, with the
identification of this drug, promising to raise hopes of a cure. References:
- Questions and Answers about Alopecia Areata - (http://www.niams.nih.gov/health_info/alopecia_areata/)
- Alopecia areata: Overview - (https:www.aad.org/public/diseases/hair-and-scalp-problems/alopecia-areata)