Category Archives: Angela Christiano

Arthritis Drug Reverses Alopecia Universalis

On this blog, I primarily focus on androgenic alopecia, which is also known as male pattern baldness (MPB).  This kind of baldness results from male hormones (in particular, the derivative dihydrotestosterone, aka DHT) and an individual’s scalp hair follicles’ genetic susceptibility to miniaturization when under the influence of DHT.  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). One typical aspect of alopecia areata is something called exclamation point hair. This is where hairs are shaped like exclamation marks.


Today, it was announced that Yale scientists had cured alopecia universalis on a man 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 study link at the end of this post):

Edit: Photo was removed from linked site.

Source: The Society for Investigative Dermatology and Yale University.  Before and 8 months after photos.

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

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 Nizoral Anti-Dandruff Shampoo 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 article 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, his opinion that there is no immune system component to androgenic alopecia, as well as more details about the actual patient (see photo below).

Kyle Rhodes had a full head of hair after eight months when he began using an arthritis drug to treat his alopecia areata.

Update: Interesting update from Australian newspaper where Dr. King says he is getting 200-300 e-mails a day about this.

3D Culturing of Hair

This week seems to be full of interesting developments.  Besides the upcoming 2013 ISHRS Conference starting in two days, Dr. Angela Christiano and Dr. Colin Jahoda just released their latest findings that have made global headlines. Their main discovery involves using a “hanging-drop” method (over 100 years old) of 3D spheroid culturing of dermal papilla cells, rather than a regular 2D petri dish culturing method that had failed in the past. This 3D method has shown significant success, although it is still a ways away from being able to be used in humans with consistent and safe results.

The “cure five years away” and “only tested on mice” story yet again, but nevertheless, this time I am more optimistic. I really have high hopes that Dr. Nigam’s visit to the ISHRS conference will lead to him and Dr. Jahoda collaborating in future. India has a huge number of people and lax regulations, a combination that can allow for much faster large-scale testing of new medical technologies in comparison to the western world.

First, a video with the incredibly follically blessed Dr. Christiano:

(Edit: Per the Fox News video in the link at the bottom of this post, it seems like she wears a wig and suffers from Alopecia Areata).


An audio interview from BBC with Dr. Colin Jahoda

And now some links to their findings:

Article from Nature

Article from BBC

Article from New Scientist

Article from NYtimes

Video from Fox News