Arthritis drug may help restore hair loss in alopecia patients

Yale researchers: Arthritis drug may help restore hair loss in alopecia patients

A drug used to treat rheumatoid arthritis may help restore body hair in those who suffer from a certain autoimmune disease, Yale University researchers have found.

The drug, tofacitinib citrate, is marketed as Xeljanz and manufactured by Pfizer.

The disease, alopecia areata, causes patchy or complete hair loss on the body, including loss of eyebrows and eyelashes, according to a Yale press release. There are no effective treatments for the disorder.

“This study demonstrates the drug is effective for treating alopecia areata,” said Dr. Brett A. King, a professor of dermatology in the Yale School of Medicine, who designed the study with Dr. Brittany Craiglow, in a press release.

The two physicians conducted a study in which they treated 66 adults who have alopecia. The arthritis drug was somewhat effective in growing hair and one-third had more than half of scalp hair returned after three months of treatment.

King first showed that tofacitinib could treat alopecia in 2014.

“The only missing pieces are, one, the results of treatment over longer periods of time and, two, looking at treatment of the pediatric age group, where the disease frequently shows up first and can be particularly devastating,” King said in the release. “We’ll have those results soon.”

The way tofacitinib appears to work is to stop the immune system from attacking hair follicles, the release said.

King said the study did not examine whether tofacitinib is effective on normal male pattern baldness, but that other reports show that it might influence normal hair follicle development to foster regrowth of hair.

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Yale researchers: Arthritis drug may help restore hair loss in alopecia patients

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