Category Archives: Alopecia Areata

The Bald Truth interview with Dr. Brett King

This post is an update to the potentially ground breaking development from four days ago that I posted on this blog regarding arthritis drug tofacitinib curing a patient’s alopecia universalis and psoriasis.

Spencer Kobren of The Bald Truth Talk show managed to interview Dr. Brett King, and Dr. King’s optimism is palpable throughout the session.  A must watch video, especially the last five minutes of it.

Spencer talks about the inflammatory aspect of male pattern baldness, and Dr. King strongly feels that a topical formulation of this drug would likely be tested on patients with Androgenic Alopecia.  That segment made me quite annoyed that Dr. Cotsarelis was so dismissive of this new development per the CNN article I linked to at the bottom of my first post on this subject.  Per Dr. Cotsarelis, androgenic alopecia does not have an immune system rejection related component to it.  I am not so sure about that, especially since so many of us hair loss sufferers get itching and psoriasis type symptoms along with the hair loss.

My favorite quote from Dr. Brett King in the video is:

It’s hopeful…it’s beyond hopeful.

I am not as optimistic as Dr. King as yet, and a topical formulation has yet to be developed and will be difficult to develop due to the large size of the molecule involved and consequent difficulty in penetrating the scalp skin. However, I find this whole development absolutely amazing and it seems like Dr. King is optimistic that a topical formulation will be developed once enough funding is available.

As Dr. King warns, nobody should be experimenting with this drug, nor buying it on the black market.  This drug’s potential side effects make finasteride seem like candy in comparison.  I would wait for the topical formulation to come out, as well as more reports to come out on the side effects experienced by the many more patients who will now surely start taking it (in trials and under doctor supervision) for alopecia areata and severe psoriasis.

Tofacitinib Reverses Alopecia Universalis Hair Loss

On this blog, I primarily focus on androgenic alopecia (AGA), which is also known as male pattern baldness (MPB). This kind of baldness results from male hormones (in particular, dihydrotestosterone) and scalp hair follicle genetic susceptibility to miniaturization. The vast majority of men who suffer from hair loss are experiencing androgenic alopecia.

Alopecia Areata, Totalis and Universalis

A less common form of hair loss is called alopecia areata in which hair is lost from some areas of the body in small clumps. More severe forms of alopecia areata include: alopecia totalis (when hair is lost from the whole scalp); and alopecia universalis (when hair is lost from all over the body, including the scalp).

Tofacitinib Cures Alopecia Universalis

Today, it was announced that Yale scientists led by Dr. Brett King had cured alopecia universalis in a man. They did this via just administering an existing FDA-approved rheumatoid arthritis drug called tofacitinib citrate (brand name Xeljanz, manufactured by Pfizer). The photos they presented are quite extraordinary. Also see the study link at the end of this post.

Tofacitinib reverses alopecia areata.
Tofacitinib reverses alopecia areata and universalis.

Besides curing this person’s hair loss, the drug also significantly improved his psoriasis. Lead scientists Dr. Brett King and his wife Dr. Brittany Craiglow credited Dr. Angela Christiano’s earlier work as inspiring them to try this experiment in one of their human patients. They now hope to start larger clinical trials. Dr. Christiano’s earlier work entailed tofacitinib as well as ruxolitinib reversing alopecia areata in mice.

I believe that there could also be an autoimmune inflammatory process involved with androgenic alopecia (just as with alopecia areata and psoriasis). A large proportion of men suffering from androgenic alopecia complain about scalp itching, dryness, dandruff and psoriasis type symptoms.

Many find top rated dandruff shampoos to be particularly effective at dealing with this inflammation. It would be quite something if tofacitinib also helped people like us who are suffering from androgenic alopecia.

The full study titled “Killing Two Birds with One Stone: Oral Tofacitinib Reverses Alopecia Universalis in a Patient with Plaque Psoriasis” is currently available online.

Update: CNN also now published this story, with a word of caution from George Cotsarelis regarding the side effects of tofacitinib. In his opinion, there is no immune system component to androgenic alopecia.