Two patients, who had lost all of their hair 10 years ago as a result of a medical condition, recently regrew some of their hair after taking an arthritis drug, according to a new report of the cases.
The patients who are one man and one woman have experienced alopecia universalis, a condition in which people lose all of the hair on their entire body because their immune system attacks hair follicles.
The patients’ doctors tried treating them with many other drugs, but the therapies were not effective. But after the patients took the arthritis drug, called, tofacitinib, every day for two months, some hair regrew on their scalp, eyebrows, and underarms, as per the report. The patients were taken after for nine months while they took the drug, and they did not experience any serious side effects, the researchers said.
The researchers said in their study that they expect that these cases will prompt a study to figure out if tofacitinib is a safe and successful treatment for alopecia universalis. “ Effective treatment can improve patients’ lives greatly, as it did for our patients,” the researchers, from Albert Einstein Hospital in Sao Paulo, Brazil, wrote in the Nov. 15 issue of the journal Annals of Internal Medicine.
Despite the fact that hair-loss condition is not life-threatening, it is necessary to develop effective medications owing to the fact that the condition can negatively affect patients’ mental health. “ Hair loss actually affects your self-confidence,” said Dr. Doris Day, a dermatologist at Lenox Hill Hospital, in new York, was not involved with the study. “I have patients who are close suicidal because of hair loss,” Day said.
Day also newly utilized tofacitinib to treat a patient with universalis, and saw comparative results, she said.
But there is a worry that long-term treatment with tofacitinib could cause negative side effects, the researchers said. The drug is known to cause side effects that include an increased risk of serious infections and also tears in the stomach and intestines, as indicated by Pfizer, the company that makes tofacitinib, which is sold under the brand name Xeljanz.
The results add to those of a study published in September, which tried tofacitinib as a treatment for 66 people with hair loss because of alopecia areata, an immune-system condition in which the hair falls out in patches. In that study, half of the subjects regrew some hair, and one-third saw more than 50% of the hair of scalp grow back.
“The more we understand about the various pathways, about what makes hair grow and what makes hair not grow, we can develop better, more refined treatments that are hopefully safer and more reliably effective,” Day said.