Drug Restores Hair Growth in Patients with Alopecia Areata

This is really our first complete human study and the results really have been quite astounding compared to the previously available treatments Alopecia areata is an autoimmune form of hair loss where the body attacks the hair follicles and it begins to fall out We enrolled patients with at least thirty percent hair loss and we felt this was a good threshold because we wanted to capture those patients who really were very significantly affected by their hair loss And we found that 9 out of 12 patients had at least 50% regrowth So the genetic studies that we’ve been working on in the lab for the past five or so years were really critical in pointing for the first time at a potential pathway to target for alopecia areata So, unexpectedly, the JAK signaling pathway really emerged as a targetable pathway for this disease directly from our genetic studies In alopecia areata the hair follicle is quietened by the inflammatory response right around the hair follicle and so the JAK inhibitors block the ability of the cytokines that are released by the inflamed cells from acting on the hair follicle So if you cut that off, it enables the hair follicle to waken up and grow This is the first time we can talk about drugs that really show objective ability to treat alopecia areata and lead to regrowth in a large percentage of people But I think it’s very important for people to know that these are not cures and a lot work still needs to be done to clarify the safety and the best ways to use these drugs First thing to do really is to go back and repeat this now with a placebo group and a larger group of patients perhaps treat them for a longer time even based on this early result there’s excitement here – I think we’re on the right track and certainly, even if it treats 75% of alopecia patients, that’s a great improvement over what’s currently available