Yale researchers have successfully completed an 8-month study using an FDA-approved arthritis drug. What’s the catch? The study had nothing to do with arthritis; it had to do with generating hair growth.
At the end of the 8-month research, a 25-year-old man who was suffering from the rare disease alopecia universalis had regrown a full head of hair, eyebrows, armpit hair, eye lashes, and facial hair, with other growth seen on the body.
Prior to the experimental treatment, the young man had lost almost all of his hair due to his condition.
“The results are exactly what we hoped for, said in a press release Brett A. King, M.D., assistant professor of dermatology at Yale University School of Medicine.
This is a huge step forward in the treatment of patients with this condition. While its one case, we anticipated the successful treatment of this man based on our current understanding of the disease and the drug. We believe the same results will be duplicated in other patients, and we plan to try.
The drug, tofacitinib citrate, has been successfully used to treat psoriasis, causing researchers to surmise it might have implications in other similar skin conditions.
Alopecia universalis is a rare form of hair loss with no known causes. According to the Office of Rare Diseases Research, alopecia universalis presents itself as the loss of hair over the entire scalp and body and is an autoimmune disease.
People develop this condition when the immune system mistakenly attacks the hair follicles. There is currently no cure for alopecia universalis and no medications approved for its treatment.
Some individuals do experience some regrowth of hair intermittently as the hair follicles are still alive.
“There are no good options for long-term treatment of alopecia universalis,” said King. “The best available science suggested this might work, and it has.
This case highlights the interplay between advances in science and the treatment of disease,” he said, “and it provides a compelling example of the ways in which an increasingly complex understanding of medicine, combined with ingenuity in treatment, benefits patients.”
The young man in the study reported no side effects and no abnormalities were seen by researchers in laboratory screenings.