In a recent study, researchers from Columbia University find that 75% of patients with moderate to severe alopecia areata had significant hair regrowth after treatment with ruxolitinib.
By the end of treatment, average hair regrowth among the patients was 92%.
Alopecia areata is an autoimmune disease that causes patchy and, less frequently, total hair loss.
It is the second most common form of hair loss, can occur at any age and affects men and women equally.
The disease usually causes hair loss on the scalp, but some patients also experience facial and body hair loss. Currently, no treatment can completely restore hair in patients with the disease.
In the study, the researchers conducted a small, open-label clinical trial of 12 patients with moderate to severe alopecia areata (more than 30% hair loss).
All patients were given 20 mg of oral ruxolitinib, twice a day, for three to six months.
They were followed for an additional three months to assess the long-term effect of this treatment.
The researchers found that 9 patients had hair regrowth of 50% or greater. By the end of the treatment period, 77% of those who responded to the therapy achieved hair regrowth of more than 95%.
About 30% of patients had significant hair loss in the follow-up period after the medication was stopped, although hair loss was not so bad as pre-treatment levels.
In addition, all patients’ skin had less inflammatory response and higher levels of hair growth.
These levels were like those in people without alopecia areata.
The drug was well-tolerated in all participants, with no serious adverse events.
Those that did experienced side effects had infrequent and included bacterial skin infections, skin allergy symptoms, and lower hemoglobin levels, which resolved with dose adjustment.
The team suggests that although their study was small, it provides crucial evidence that ruxolitinib may constitute the first effective treatment for people with alopecia areata.
This is good news for patients who are suffering from the physical and emotional effects of this disfiguring autoimmune disease.
The study is published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation/Insight.