Hair loss and baldness are common problems especially in adults these days. The condition is worrisome as there is no proper cure for conditions of baldness rather than just taking precautionary measures.
Scientists have made a major breakthrough in this field as they may have possibly discovered a cure for a form of baldness.
According to the researchers at Columbia University Medical Centre (CUMC), they have found a drug which helped in restoring the hair of three patients within a five-month period.
They have identified the immune cells that are responsible for destroying hair follicles in people suffering from hair loss causing autoimmune disease, known as alopecia areata.
The initial result of an ongoing clinical trial of a drug, which is approved by FDA, has shown that it initiated complete hair re-growth in several patients suffering from moderate-to-severe alopecia areata.
Moreover, three of the participants had total hair regrowth within five months of their treatment.
Study lead author Raphael Clynes said, “We have only 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.”
Clynes had led the research along with professor Angela M Christiano, from the Departments of Dermatology and of Genetics and Development at CUMC.
Alopecia areata, a common autoimmune disease, causes huge hair loss. It can occur to any one irrespective of age and gender. Hair loss in alopecia areata patients occurs when cells from the immune system attacks hair follicle base, leading to weakening and then falling of hairs.
For the study, the team of researchers first studied mice with the autoimmune disease and then tracked backward from the danger signal to trace the specific set of T-cells that are responsible for attacking the hair follicles.
Following detailed probe into mouse and patient cells, they found how the T-cells are instructed to attack. Researchers also revealed how these cells identify several key immune pathways that could be attacked by JAK inhibitors, a new class of drugs.
Two JAK inhibitors, – ruxolitinib and tofacitinib- were tested separately by the scientists. They found that they were able to block these immune pathways and stop the attack on the hair follicles.
Both drugs completely restored the hair within 12 weeks in mice with extensive hair loss from the disease.
A small open-label clinical trial of ruxolitinib was then rapidly initiated in patients with moderate-to-severe alopecia areata.
The drug completely restored hair growth in three of the trial’s early participants within four to five months of the commencement of treatment.
The study is published in the journal Nature Medicine.