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.
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.