A baldness cure could be in sight after a drug was found to restore hair growth in around four months.
Scientists found the drug stimulated hair growth in patients with alopecia, an autoimmune disease which causes hair loss, within four months but hope it could be used to cure other forms of baldness.
Researchers at Columbia University Medical Center found 75% of patients with moderate to severe alopecia showed ‘significant hair regrowth’ after taking the drug ruxolitinib.
By the end of the treatment the average hair regrowth among patients was 92%.
Previously, the Columbia researchers identified the specific immune cells and the dominant inflammatory signalling pathways responsible for attacking the hair follicle, putting them into a dormant state.
Their investigations with mouse and human hair follicles showed that topical and oral drugs that block the Janus kinase (JAK) family of enzymes, known as JAK inhibitors, help to reawaken these dormant follicles.
They do that by blocking the inflammatory signalling that stops the hair from growing.
Dr Julian Mackay-Wiggan, associate professor at the university and a dermatologist at New York-Presbyterian, said: “Although our study was small, it provides crucial evidence that JAK inhibitors may constitute the first effective treatment for people with alopecia areata.
“This is encouraging news for patients who are coping with the physical and emotional effects of this disfiguring autoimmune disease.”
Alopecia areata, the second most common form of hair loss, can occur at any age and affects men and woman equally.