Researchers at Yale university may have discovered a new use for a drug used to treat arthritis — after administering it to a bald man who then grew a full head of hair.
The patient suffered from a condition known as alopecia universalis, an uncommon affliction that leads to the loss of hair all over the body. According to Medical News Today, doctors treated the 25-year-old man with a drug called tofacitinib citrate, which is already approved by the FDA to treat rheumatoid arthritis. The drug may have implications for the treatment of hair loss as well, since the patient managed to regrow hair not only on his scalp, but also on his face, in his armpits and in his groin. The man also suffered from plaque psoriasis, a condition that causes red scaly areas on the skin. Tofacitinib has already proved to be effective in treating psoriasis in humans, as well as reversing a less aggressive form of hair loss in mice, so researchers were interested to see what effect the drug would have on the patient’s hair loss.
After two months of treatment with the drug, doctors say the man had hair on his scalp and face for the first time in seven years. Researchers increased the daily dose, and within three months, the patient had regrown a full head of hair. He had also grown eyebrows and eyelashes once again, as well as hair on his face. According to the MailOnline, researchers claim they saw no lab abnormalities, and that the patient has reported no side effects from his hair-inducing treatment.
Brett A. King, M.D., who is the lead author of a paper on the case in Journal of Investigative Dermatology, said the doctors involved believe the drug works by turning off the body’s immune attack toward hair follicles. Alopecia univesalis is caused when the body’s immune system attacks hair follicles that are otherwise normal and healthy. While alopecia doesn’t damage a person’s health directly, the hair loss associated with it can have severe effects on patient’s quality of life. As The Inquisitr previously reported, an 11-year-old Colorado Springs girl made headlines when she revealed to classmates that she had the disease, and had lost all of her hair. Since the girl wore a wig to school to disguise the hair loss, many of her fellow students were shocked to learn that she suffered from alopecia.
Dr. King has applied for a clinical trial in which he proposes using a topical form of the drug to treat other patients with similar hair loss.
[Image via MailOnline]