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Can Drugs For Arthritis and Cancer Reverse Hair Loss?
by April Maguire
Let’s face it, odds are most of us will start to lose our hair at some point in our lives. In fact, it may already be happening to you. At present, there are no easy, reliable methods to stem the tide of hair loss. While some of the products on the market today do work for some users, they don’t halt the rate of hair loss in everyone, and many of them aren’t effective at stimulating the growth of new hair. Recently, however, a team of scientists has taken an unorthodox approach to fighting hair loss by testing drugs designed to treat arthritis and cancer to see if they can be used to regrow hair.
Why Does Hair Fall Out?
People can start to lose their hair for a number of reasons. Sometimes hair loss is due to genetics, while at other times it can be caused by environmental factors, disease or even certain types of medications. When hair loss occurs naturally, it is usually due a condition called androgenetic alopecia, which causes the hair follicles to shrink. Once the hair follicles close off, they stop growing new hair, resulting in baldness. By some estimates, more than 60% of men and 40% of women will develop androgenetic alopecia at some point in their lives.
For this most recent study, researchers tested a rheumatoid arthritis drug, Xeljanz, and a cancer drug, Jakafi, to see what effect, if any, they had on hair loss. Both drugs are Janus kinase (JAK) inhibitors, meaning that they inhibit the activity of certain types of enzymes within the body. In previous tests, the drugs were proven to reverse the effects of another type of hair loss, alopecia areata, which is hair loss caused by an autoimmune disorder rather than by follicle shrinkage.
In the study, the researchers tested the JAK inhibitors on mice, as well as human scalp tissue that had been grafted onto the mice. Over the course of the research, the team learned that, when applied topically, the drugs did, in fact, stimulate the growth of new hair by triggering stem cells within the hair follicles and reactivating them. Additionally, the researchers discovered that the drugs could also extend the life of follicles that are already functioning.
According to the researchers, more tests will need to be performed to see if these drugs are a viable method for battling hair loss. But if they can create a version of the drugs specifically for that purpose, then a cure for baldness could be on the horizon.
If you or someone you know would like to learn more about hair loss and how to treat it, please feel free to schedule a consultation or contact one of our representatives today!