Although many hair loss conditions only affect adults, there are a number which can present in children too. Alopecia Areata
- an autoimmune disorder which causes baldness in hair-bearing areas - is one such issue.
It has three main phenotypes: Alopecia Areata, which causes patchy hair loss
of the scalp only; Alopecia Totalis
, which causes baldness of the entire scalp and can also result in loss of facial hair, eyebrows and lashes; and Alopecia Universalis
, which causes the body to reject all hair, leaving it hairless from head to toe.
Areas affected by hair loss shown in blue
Whilst the scalp-only form generally resolves itself naturally within a year, or can also be dealt with from adulthood using Alopecia Areata Treatment
, the more extreme iterations are less likely to respond to treatment. Due to this unmet need for what can be an extremely psychologically distressing condition, there are a number of potential treatments in development for all forms of Alopecia Areata. However, so far clinical trials have only involved participants aged 18 years and over; currently those under 18s affected by autoimmune alopecia are generally directed to charities and wig suppliers as a solution.
This makes the announcement of a new study investigating a novel Alopecia Areata treatment for adults and adolescents from 12 years of age, particularly exciting.
Clinical trial explores PF-06651600 Alopecia Areata treatment
Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, which is already heavily invested in the race to produce the first JAK inhibitor-based hair loss treatment
for mild to severe Alopecia Areata, having received 'Breakthrough Status'
from the FDA, has announced a global clinical trial into an oral drug known as PF-06651600. Participants must be 12 years of age or older, with a clinical diagnosis of Alopecia Areata, Totalis or Universalis. This must affect more than 50 per cent of the hair on their scalp and should have done continuously for at least six months, but less than ten years, with no signs of regrowth presenting during this period.
The double-blind, placebo-controlled trial consists of seven arms. These are as follows:
- Experimental Sequence A:
an 'induction dose' of PF-06651600 whereby oral tablets are taken once per day for four weeks; this is followed by oral tablets of Maintenance Dose #1 taken once daily for 44 weeks
- Experimental Sequence B:
an 'induction dose' of PF-06651600 whereby oral tablets are taken once per day for four weeks; this is followed by oral tablets of Maintenance Dose #2 taken once daily for 44 weeks
- Experimental Sequence C:
the Maintenance Dose #1 of PF-06651600 is administered once per day, every day for 48 weeks
- Experimental Sequence D:
the Maintenance Dose #2 of PF-06651600 is administered once per day, every day for 48 weeks
- Experimental Sequence E:
the Maintenance Dose #3 of PF-06651600 is administered once per day, every day for 48 weeks
- Experimental Sequence F:
a placebo is administered in oral tablet form once per day for 24 weeks; this is followed by an induction dose of PF-06651600 taken once daily for 4 weeks; a Maintenance Dose #1 of PF-06651600 is given once per day for a further 20 weeks
- Experimental Sequence G:
a placebo is administered in oral tablet form once per day for 24 weeks; this is followed by a Maintenance Dose #1 of PF-06651600 is taken once per day for a further 24 weeks.
The trial participants' hair growth will be assessed using the SALT (Severity of Alopecia Tool) scoring method; the release date for topline data from this trial is estimated to be 16th October 2020, with the final study findings due for finalisation on 15th June 2021.
Dealing with hair loss in childhood
Until a new treatment which proves to be sufficiently safe, effective and tolerable to receive the necessary medical regulatory board approvals - MHRA licensing and FDA approval, for example - needed for it to be made available for prescription, children with hair loss
should consult their GP. At Belgravia
we offer consultations to over 16s.
In addition to speaking with a medical professional about the situation, specialist hair loss charities
, such as Alopecia UK
, can provide solidarity, information and access to local peer support groups, which can be invaluable in helping children - and adults - understand that they are not alone in their experiences.
Another extremely worthwhile charity worth contacting is the Little Princess Trust
which also encompasses its male division, Hero by LPT
. These children's charities provide real-hair wigs, free of charge to boys and girls experiencing medical hair loss, such as the various forms of Alopecia Areata.