Researchers in America report that they have treated a woman with the autoimmune disorder Alopecia Areata using a cream based on the JAK-inhibitor ruxolitinib. They say treatment was so successful that they have fully reversed her hair loss.
In what sounds like a truly remarkable transformation, the doctors at Yale School of Medicine say that the woman – who had no scalp or eyebrow hair for some years before the treatment – now enjoys “a full mane of hair” after using their novel cream.
Multiple hair loss treatments
According to the doctors’ report, their 17-year-old patient had previously tried multiple treatments with no success, but responded very well to the new cream that uses the cancer drug ruxolitinib (brand name: Jakafi) in a topical form.
More commonly, the drug is taken as a pill and belongs to a class of medications known as Janus Kinase (JAK) inhibitors which alter the immune system. As researchers at Columbia University put it after an earlier study on mice: “JAK inhibition regulates the activation of key hair follicle populations such as the hair germ.”
It wasn’t the first time that Dr Brett King, assistant professor of dermatology at the Yale School of Medicine, had enjoyed success with a drug of this type: in 2014 King was able to restore hair on a male patient who had a more extreme form of alopecia called Alopecia Universalis. This condition, which manifests itself in hair loss over the entire scalp and body, was treated orally with the JAK inhibitor tofacitinib.
Indeed the team’s most recent patient might more accurately be described as Alopecia Totalis if, as reported and pictured, her eyebrows were missing.
According to Yale’s website, for the new study “the patient applied the cream twice a day to the scalp and eyebrows. After 12 weeks, she had complete restoration of eyebrows and partial regrowth of her scalp. After switching from the cream to a pill form to continue her treatment, the patient now has a full head of hair.”
Concern about side effects
The attraction of using a cream instead of a pill cannot be overstated given the possible health risks that have been associated with taking certain JAK inhibitors in pill form. Tofacitinib citrate for example, was approved by the FDA for the treatment of moderate to severe cases of rheumatoid arthritis in adults in 2012 but concerns about possible side effects linger, especially in Europe.
Years of clinical trials are likely to stand between Yale’s findings and the world’s pharmacies, and Belgravia will be monitoring the progress of JAK inhibitors as possible future treatments for Alopecia Areata with interest.
At present, we see many instances of encouraging regrowth in Belgravia clients with patchy hair loss from Alopecia Areata who follow bespoke treatment courses based around topically-applied high strength minoxidil. This should only be applied to the scalp though and should never be used on the eyebrows or anywhere else.
As yet, although there is no truly effective regrowth solution available in terms of a treatment for Alopecia Totalis or Universalis, thanks to this type of research, scientists are hopefully getting closer.
The Belgravia Centre
The Belgravia Centre is the leader in hair loss treatment in the UK, with two clinics based in Central London. If you are worried about hair loss you can arrange a free consultation with a hair loss expert or complete our Online Consultation Form from anywhere in the UK or the rest of the world. View our Hair Loss Success Stories, which are the largest collection of such success stories in the world and demonstrate the levels of success that so many of Belgravia’s patients achieve. You can also phone 020 7730 6666 any time for our hair loss helpline or to arrange a free consultation.