Category Archives: Yale University

Dr. Valerie Horsley, Dr. Craig Ziering, Fat Cells and Hair Growth

In recent years, various researchers have found a strong connection between hair cells and fat cells and their communication with each other. I covered some of this in a post from last year.

Dr. Valerie Horsley

A year or so ago, I bookmarked a video from Dr. Valerie Horsley regarding the link between fat cells and hair cells on the scalp that I wanted to post on this blog, but postponed doing so after visiting the Horsley Laboratory (at Yale University) website and not seeing much on hair loss research developments in the news page. I was waiting to post that video as part of a longer post also covering a recent news development, and today is finally the day. First, since the video cannot be embedded, here is the link to it.

You can also read more about the Horsley Lab’s findings here. Apparently, fat cells in the skin “talk” to hair cells and this communication is necessary to induce hair growth. The lab’s researchers are trying to find ways to re-enable this communication and perhaps grow back hair in balding regions.

Dr. Craig Ziering

Now as far as the recent news development goes, it is not a newspaper item, but rather, an interesting new addition to a well known hair transplant surgeon’s product offerings.  Dr. Craig Ziering, who is based in the US, seems to have recently updated his UK website, and one of the pages on there (Edit: no longer there) was quite a surprise to me.  Dr. Ziering has apparently invented a trademarked “STEMULATION” device to separate stem cells from extracted body fat, which are then injected into the scalp to aid hair growth. The webpage is not complete yet (a lot of “lorem ipsum” placeholder text in there), and there is not much on the page about studies that support this new procedure. It also seems like the contents of that webpage disappeared and came back and then disappeared yet again and then got moved somewhere else and then disappeared again from the new location (I got some of these updates in the hair loss chat on this site)! I am skeptical about this whole thing, but the EU has given Dr. Ziering a CE Mark that is required to sell or market a medical device.

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.