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18th Aug 2014

Alopecia Drug Restores Hair In Just Five Months

This marks an important breakthrough in the treatment of this condition.

Cathy Donohue

A new drug has been hailed as a cure for alopecia sufferers after it fully restored the hair of three patients.

Alopecia areata is an autoimmune disease that can cause hair loss. Experts began a trial after they determined which cells were responsible for destroying hair follices in those suffering from the condition.

The three patients put on the drug ruxolitinib, which is also used to treat myelofibrosis, a type of bone marrow cancer, found that within five months their hair had completely grown back.

“We’ve only just begun testing the drug in patients, but if the drug continues to be successful and safe, it will have a dramatic positive impact on the lives of people with this disease,” said Dr Raphael Clynes, from Columbia University Medical Center in New York.

The patients participating in the trial had moderate-to-severe alopecia areata, which causes patchy loss of head hair and each person was given a 20 milligram dose of ruxolitinib twice a day.

Its success has been linked to the disappearance of T-cell immune cells that attack hair follicles in the scalp, according to reports.

“We still need to do more testing to establish that ruxolitinib should be used in alopecia areata, but this is exciting news for patients and their physicians,” said Dr Clynes.

“This disease has been completely understudied – until now, only two small clinical trials evaluating targeted therapies in alopecia areata have been performed”.

Although this drug may be used to treat alopecia in the future, there is no suggestion that it will help those affected by male pattern baldness.

Image courtesy of Julian Mackay-Wiggan