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New Treatment Can Restore Up to 90 Percent of Hair
by Jane Meggitt
Janus Kinase (JAK) inhibitors are already in use to combat bone marrow cancer, rheumatoid arthritis and other immune diseases. Their potential appears limitless – and they might also cure baldness. While hair loss isn’t life-threatening, it affects an individual’s appearance and quality of life. Soon, JAK inhibitor treatments may bring back the bulk of hair to bald pates. They work by “reawakening” dormant hair follicles by keeping inflammatory signaling at bay.
A Pilot Trial
In a small trial involving twelve patients at New York’s Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC), 75 percent – or nine people – had approximately 90 percent of their hair grow back after treatment with the drug ruxolitinib, a JAK inhibitor. The hair grew back within six months of treatment. These patients weren’t typical bald individuals. They were all diagnosed with alopecia areata, which causes hair loss in just 1 to 2 percent of all bald people. This autoimmune condition causes patchy loss, although some sufferers become completely bald. It affects male and females and can occur at any age. While hair loss on the head is most common, some patients also lose body and facial hair. All patients in the trial had moderate to severe hair loss of at least 30 percent. All patients tolerated the drug, with no serious side effects noted.
Once patients stopped using the drug, one –third of them started to again lose hair. In this small study, that’s four folks. Right now, it’s not known whether ruxolitinib or similar JAK inhibitors can cause hair regrowth in those afflicted with the most common type of baldness, androgenetic alopecia. That’s better known as male pattern baldness. CUMC may start larger trials involving androgenetic alopecia sufferers in the near future.
Inflammation and Baldness
Many bald people do not suffer from scalp inflammation, although a significant percentage deals with excess dandruff and itching. It’s possible that some individuals may have an undiagnosed autoimmune component to their inflammation, and a JAK inhibitor could offer relief and hair restoration.
The commercial potential of a breakthrough hair restoration drug hasn’t been lost on investors. Last year, Aclaris Technology, a Pennsylvania-based “clinical stage specialty pharmaceutical company,” purchased “a portfolio” of JAK inhibitor compounds, both oral and topical, for alopecia areata treatment. The company’s website states it is also pursuing “other dermatological conditions” with the drugs.
Perhaps in the next decade, no one will sport a bald head except by choice.
If you or someone you know would like more information about hair loss and how to treat it, please feel free to schedule a consultation or contact one of our representatives today!