JAK Inhibitors Could Revolutionize Alopecia Areata Treatment

Alopecia Areata Treatment with JAK Inhibitors.

Realizing that your hair is falling out due to alopecia areata can be very troubling. Fortunately, topical JAK inhibitors seem to be effective at reversing this disorder's effects. This form of alopecia areata treatment could soon make hair regrowth safe and convenient.

Approximately one out of every 1,000 people have or will have alopecia areata. If you suffer from it, your immune system is attacking your hair follicles, causing your hair to fall out in patches.

The Science of JAK Inhibitors

How do Janus kinase (JAK) inhibitors come into play here? JAK enzymes alert the immune system to infections and other problems. When a person has alopecia areata, though, those enzymes send false alarms, prompting certain white blood cells (T cells) to assail hair follicles for no good reason. As the name suggests, a JAK inhibitor can block those enzymes and keep these Tcells from attacking.

JAK inhibitors assist in another way. The "life" of a hair involves three phases. During the anagen phase, a hair grows. In the catagen stage, the growth stops. And, during the telogen phase, the hair rests for about 100 days before it finally falls out. Apparently, JAK inhibitors can induce a hair to leave the telogen phase and go into the anagen phase. Thus, it regrows.

Of Mice and Men and Women

In August 2014, Columbia University Medical Center researchers announced that they'd isolated the immune cells that carry out those hair follicle attacks. They also revealed promising initial results in their alopecia areata treatment study.

The Columbia researchers started with mice that had alopecia areata. They applied two JAK inhibitors, both of which the FDA has approved, to the mice's skin: tofacitinib and ruxolitinib. Both drugs settled into the right immune pathways and kept T cells from reaching hair follicles. Consequently, the mice grew their missing hair back in three months. Months later, that new hair was still in place.

After studying the mice, those scientists proceeded to work with human alopecia areata patients. They supplied topical ruxolitinib to 12 people who'd seen more than 30 percent of their hair fall out. In five months, a few of them had all of their hair back, and the researchers found that T cells were no longer present near their hair follicles. Altogether, nine out of 12 participants grew back at least half of the hair they'd lost.

Can We Eradicate Alopecia Areata?

In addition to the Columbia study, Stanford and Yale recently collaborated on a research project that involved 66 people with moderate or severe alopecia areata. Those patients took tofacitinib for three months, and a third of them grew back most of the hair they'd shed.

Also promising, in neither study did anyone experience a serious adverse side effect. Indeed, topical treatments usually lead to fewer or milder side effects than systemic treatments, which are oral medications and injections.

JAK Inhibitor Research Trial at California Dermatology and Clinical Research Institute

The medical community still has a great deal to learn about alopecia areata. Much more testing must be done before doctors can prescribe JAK inhibitors for this condition. However, if you have this disorder, you could participate in a JAK inhibitor trial at San Diego's California Dermatology and Clinical Research Institute. By doing so, you'll help its medical experts find out if this alopecia areata treatment is as revolutionary as it seems. Give us a call at (760) 203-3839.