The Bald Truth About Arthritis Drug...

Hair Growth 062014

Hair loss does not make one physically ill but is said to have emotional and psychological consequences. One of the most common causes of hair loss is alopecia areata, an autoimmune disease, which results in well-defined circular bald patches on the scalp. A more extreme variant of alopecia areata is known as alopecia universalis wherein there is a total loss of all body hair.

There is no permanent cure for alopecia universalis. However, a novel treatment by doctors at Yale University has helped reverse alopecia universalis in a 25-year-old man with plaque psoriasis. The patient had actually sought treatment for psoriasis, which is also an autoimmune disease.

Believing that it might be possible to address both the autoimmune diseases simultaneously with Pfizer's arthritis drug Xeljanz (tofacitinib citrate), the doctors at Yale Dermatology treated the patient with Xeljanz at a daily dose of 10 mg for two months and then with 15 mg dosage of the drug daily for three more months.

Following 2 months of treatment, the patient's psoriasis showed some improvement and he had grown scalp and facial hair - the first hair he'd grown there in seven years. After three more months of therapy, the patient had completely regrown scalp hair and also had clearly visible eyebrows, eyelashes, and facial hair, as well as armpit and other hair, the doctors said.

Xeljanz is not approved for psoriasis yet and is currently being evaluated for that indication. In phase III trials, Xeljanz at dosage of 5mg or 10mg twice-daily has demonstrated encouraging results in clearing psoriasis lesions after 16 weeks' treatment. Pfizer intends to seek approval of Xeljanz for the treatment of adults with moderate-to-severe chronic plaque psoriasis by early 2015.

In the case study reported by doctors at Yale University, Xeljanz was mildly effective for psoriasis while it reversed alopecia universalis in the patient with full regrowth of hair.

Brett King, assistant professor of dermatology at Yale University School of Medicine, has submitted a clinical trial proposal for a cream form of Xeljanz as a treatment for alopecia areata.

The study results are published online June 18 in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology.

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