Right on the heels of June’s alopecia universalis breakthrough comes a second publication announcing good news for those suffering from the spectrum of alopecia areata diseases. An August article in Nature Medicine from a team out of New York’s Columbia University presents the successful use of the drug ruxolitinib for treatment of alopecia areata in three patients with varying degrees of hair loss. Ruxolitinib is a JAK inhibitor approved by the FDA for use in treating a bone marrow cancer called myelofibrosis. It, along with tofacitinib citrate (which we featured here after it made big news in June), was identified by the Columbia University team as having potential applications in alopecia areata due its ability to block certain immune pathways that have been found to be responsible for the autoimmune attacks on hair follicles. The progress was undeniable as the result of two 20mg doses per day for five months was ‘complete restoration’ in all three initial trials. Additionally, the expectation is that this medication will re-establish a full mane during treatment and can then be discontinued, essentially providing a cure rather than an indefinite drug regimen. These results inspire huge amounts of hope!
Researchers are quick to point out the need for further investigation as these newly opened doors prompt questions regarding the continued consistency of results, short and long term side effects, and the comparisons between the two drugs being actively tested. Despite the numerous directions for future research though, the results published in this latest study have enormous implications for what Dr. Angela Christiano, a co-lead study author from Columbia University, describes as “a tremendously large and motivated population of patients who have no other treatments available.” You can see her full interview as well as conversations with other involved researchers in the video below and access the official article on Nature Medicine here.