Alopecia baldness cured with arthritis drug

In Killing Two Birds with One Stone: Oral Tofacitinib Reverses Alopecia Universalis in a Patient with Plaque Psoriasis [PDF], a paper in Nature's Journal of Investigative Dermatology, Yale researchers Brittany G Craiglow and Brett A. King document an extremely successful trial in treating total baldness due to alopecia with the rheumatoid arthritis drug tofacitinib citrate. The 25 year old patient, who had both plaque psoriasis and alopecia, grew a full head of hair, as well as eyelashes, eyebrows and armpit hair, and reported no undesirable side effects.

Tofacitinib appears to spur hair regrowth in a patient with alopecia universalis by turning off the immune system attack on hair follicles that is prompted by the disease, King said.

The drug helps in some, but not all, cases of psoriasis, and was mildly effective in this patient’s case, the authors said.

King has submitted a proposal for a clinical trial involving a cream form of tofacitinib as a treatment for alopecia areata.

He cited work by Columbia University scientist Angela Christiano as the reason he decided to try tofacitinib as a therapy in this patient with both alopecia universalis and psoriasis. She has shown thattofacitinib and a related medicine reverse alopecia areata in mice. King called her work exemplary and a clear example of how society’s investment in science research leads to improvement in human life.

“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.”

In hairless man, arthritis drug spurs hair growth — lots of it [Eric Gershon/Yale News]

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