Full hair regrowth with alopecia areata is now a reality for many. Researchers at Columbia University Medical Center have not only identified the immune cells responsible for destroying hair follicles in people suffering from alopecia areata, but they have also tested new a FDA-approved drug that can successfully block these cells and stimulate hair re-growth.
Though the clinical trial was small, several of the test patients with moderate to severe alopecia saw complete hair re-growth within five months of starting the new treatment. Since there has never been a cure for alopecia nor any treatments to regrow hair, this new development can be life changing for those suffering from this autoimmune disease. Alopecia areata occurs when cells from someone’s immune system overwhelm and attack their hair follicles, causing their hair to fall completely out as well as enter into a state of dormancy.
The cause of alopeica was simple enough–something in the body is causing it–but what that “something” was exactly wasn’t so simple. Four years ago, while studying mice, doctors were able to uncover the follicle signals that caused the hair loss to start. From there, the doctors were able to identify the specific T cells that attack the hair follicles in response to the alert single. Basically, the hair follicles send out a distress alert/danger signal which causes the body to send T cells in to end the danger. In “ending the danger” the hair follicle expels hair anywhere the signal is received as the body thing thinks that it’s an unsafe or unhealthy area to grow hair. The new drugs work with the affected immune pathways that could be targeted by the T cells to inhibit them from attacking the hair follicles.
Two FDA-approved JAK inhibitors ?ruxolitinib and tofacitinib?were tested on patients suffering from alopecia. Both work by blocking the immune pathways and stopping the attack on hair follicles by T cells. Ruxolitinib is an FDA approved drug for the the treatment of a blood disorder in patients with moderate-to-severe alopecia areata. In some test cases, ruxolitinib worked to completely restore hair growth within four to five months and eliminated all of the T cells that were attacking the scalp.
“The timeline of moving from genetic findings to positive results in a clinical trial in only four years is astoundingly fast and speaks to this team?s ability to perform translational science of the highest caliber. There are few tools in the arsenal for the treatment of alopecia areata that have any demonstrated efficacy. This is a major step forward in improving the standard of care for patients suffering from this devastating disease.” said David Bickers, MD, the Carl Truman Nelson Professor of Dermatology and chair of the Department of Dermatology at CUMC and dermatologist-in-chief at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia.
The drug is currently still in the clinical trial phase, but talk to your doctor about this potential treatment and visit http://bit.ly/CUMCalopeciastudy for more information on the study and to apply to be apart of the study.