Existing hair loss treatments can already lead to extremely impressive results in a great many cases and for a number of conditions, but it is certainly true that a guaranteed “miracle cure” which promises rapid regrowth every time currently evades the industry.
Whether or not it will ever surface remains to be seen, but many experts are optimistic about the possibilities of JAK inhibitors – a collection of drugs designed to treat conditions including bone cancers and rheumatoid arthritis which have also shown incredible promise as a potential treatment for baldness after having produced full regrowth from severe cases of Alopecia Universalis during trials.
Interest in this area moved up a notch last week with the news that American company Aclaris Therapeutics had entered into a deal to acquire a company named Vixen Therapeutics, who hold intellectual property rights that cover the use of certain JAK inhibitor compounds for various hair loss conditions. These rights had been obtained from Columbia University, whose Associate Professor of Molecular Dermatology Dr Angela Christiano led the team which first made the discovery of a connection between JAK inhibitors such as ruxolitinib (brand name: Jakafi) and hair regrowth. Christiano founded Vixen Therapeutics.
Dr Christiano, pictured below who has herself had Alopecia Areata, said last week that: “Aclaris has made a strong commitment to research and development for hair disorders, and we look forward to Aclaris bringing JAK inhibitors to the clinic.”
Last November, Aclaris made another move into the use of JAK inhibitors as a possible treatment for hair loss when its subsidiary Alcaris Therapeutics International Ltd entered into a license agreement with JAKPharm LLC and Key Organics. There is little doubt that Aclaris sees great potential in adapting JAK inhibitors for this type of use.
“The acquisition of the Vixen intellectual property and the licensed JAKPharm and Key Organics compounds solidifies Aclaris’ presence in the JAK inhibitor space,” said Neal Walker, President and Chief Executive Officer of Aclaris. “It allows us to broaden our focus in hair loss to include androgenetic alopecia, often referred to as Female or Male Pattern Baldness.”
This is especially interesting. Aclaris’ announcement that they see JAK inhibitors’ potential in the field of Male and Female Pattern Hair Loss is something of a milestone moment, as up until now it had generally been understood that JAK inhibitors had been earmarked for possible future use on people with the autoimmune disorder Alopecia Areata, which leads to patchy hair loss, and its more extreme sister conditions Alopecia Totalis and Alopecia Universalis, which lead to much more severe hair loss.
Whilst the possibility of JAK inhibitors eventually being investigated in relation to genetic baldness – by far the most common form of hair loss – had been rumoured, this confirmation opens up the notion that JAK inhibitors may one day become an important tool in the fight against hair loss, although given the length of time it takes to develop and bring new treatments to market it is obviously much too early to get excited.
Promising new area
While Aclaris’ announcement – and the subsequent endorsement from the highly respected Dr Christiano – can only be good news for what is fast shaping up to be a very promising area of alopecia research, many hurdles lie between where the company is today and any kind of commercially-available hair loss treatment.
Even with such committed investment of time and resources it could still be a number of years before a new treatment is developed, tested and approved for use. Early concerns include the possibility of toxicity in certain JAK inhibitors, and as with all new drugs, there will be much to iron out.
In the meantime, although viable options are incredibly limited when it comes to Alopecia Totalis and Universalis, there are two MHRA licensed and FDA approved hair loss treatments for Male and Female Pattern Baldness. Additionally, treatment for Alopecia Areata when it affects the scalp only can also be possible.
Anyone worried about losing their hair to sudden bald spots or gradual thinning can consult a specialist for advice as to suitable hair loss solutions.
The Belgravia Centre is an organisation specialising in hair growth and hair loss prevention with two clinics and in-house pharmacies in Central London, UK. 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 world. View our Hair Loss Success Stories, which includes the world’s largest gallery of hair growth comparison photos and demonstrates the levels of success that so many of Belgravia’s patients achieve. You can also phone 020 7730 6666 any time to arrange a free consultation.