• Forecast
  • News Tip
  • Categories
Temperature Precipitation
Estimated read time
3m 2s

Arthritis drug helps hairless man regrow full head of hair

By Agata Blaszczak-Boxe / CBS News 8:28 AM June 22, 2014

A novel treatment involving the use of an arthritis drug helped a 25-year-old man grow a full head of hair after a rare disease left him completely hairless.

There is no known cure for alopecia universalis — the autoimmune disease that the man suffers from, which causes a loss of all body hair. Yale researchers came up with an effective targeted treatment that helped the patient grow his hair back, including eyebrows, eyelashes, facial hair and body hair.

alopecia-hair-drug-jid-2014-0170-r1-figure-2.jpg
A – Patient before treatment. B – Two months into treatment with tofacitinib. C – Three months into treatment. D – Eight months into treatment.
 YALE UNIVERSITY

“The results are exactly what we hoped for,” Dr. Brett A. King, assistant professor of dermatology at Yale University School of Medicine and senior author of a paper outlining the results online in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology, said in a statement. “This is a huge step forward in the treatment of patients with this condition. While it’s one case, we anticipated the successful treatment of this man based on our current understanding of the disease and the drug. We believe the same results will be duplicated in other patients, and we plan to try.”

The patient in the study had also been diagnosed with plaque psoriasis, a condition characterized by scaly red areas of skin. The only hair he had was within the psoriasis plaques on his head. He went to Yale Dermatology to get treated for the psoriasis; he had never been treated for the alopecia.

When King examined the patient, he thought that both diseases could be addressed with the use of a single drug for rheumatoid arthritis called tofacitinib citrate. The drug had been used to treat psoriasis in people and it had been effective at reversing a less extreme from of alopecia in mice.

“There are no good options for long-term treatment of alopecia universalis,” King said. “The best available science suggested this might work, and it has.”

Indeed, after two months of treatment with 10 mg of the arthritis drug a day, the patient’s psoriasis showed some improvement. And, for the first time in seven years, the man had grown scalp and facial hair. After three more months of therapy at 15 mg a day, the patient completely regrew scalp hair and started regrowing eyebrows, eyelashes, facial hair, armpit and other hair.

“By eight months there was full regrowth of hair,” study coauthor Dr. Brittany G. Craiglow, said in a statement. “The patient has reported feeling no side effects, and we’ve seen no lab test abnormalities, either.”

Tofacitinib citrate seems to trigger hair growth by turning off the immune system attack on hair follicles that is prompted by the disease, King said.

The drug helps in some cases of psoriasis, and it was mildly effective in treating this patient’s psoriasis, the researchers said.

King has submitted a proposal for a clinical trial involving a cream form of the arthritis drug as a treatment for a less extreme form of alopecia, which causes a hair loss that is typically less extensive than alopecia universalis.

© 2014 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Latest Stories

  • Lifestyle

    Caribou masks capture spirit of Nunamiut culture

    by Heather Hintze on May 26, 20:39

    Caribou mask making is an intricate artform Lela Ahgook has honed over time. At 72 years old, she’s now an elder in Anaktuvuk Pass, where she’s been doing it since the 1960s. “Every piece of the caribou is here,” she pointed out where she used the hoof on the forehead of a mask lined with […]

  • News

    Safety Fair teaches outdoor safety to new military members

    by Bonney Bowman on May 26, 20:15

    Memorial Day weekend means it’s time to get outside and enjoy Alaska, but without the right skills and equipment exploring the backcountry can be risky – especially for people new to the state, like many soldiers and airmen stationed at JBER. Today the base held the 4th annual Occupational and Recreational Safety Fair, aimed at […]

  • News

    Anchorage doctor accused of overprescribing painkillers fights to keep license

    by Shannon Ballard on May 26, 19:45

    The Alaska State Medical Board has accused an Anchorage doctor of writing dangerous and potentially lethal prescriptions for his patients. The state suspended Dr. Mahmood Ahmad’s license earlier this month. On Thursday, he began his fight to appeal the decision and ultimately keep practicing in Alaska. Ahmad sat quietly as the first witness testified via […]

  • On-Air

    Reality Check w/ John Tracy: The real reason to observe Memorial Day

    by John Tracy on May 26, 16:48

    I don’t know what you’re doing this Memorial Day, but chances are it will bear little resemblance to the reason we observe it. Whether you consider it the official start of summer, or the time to get a great deal on an appliance, the origins of the holiday can be traced to one of the […]

  • Weather

    Dangerous fire conditions across southcentral Alaska this weekend

    by KTVA 11 News on May 26, 16:45

    A fire weather watch has been issued for the Susitna Valley and Copper River Basin for the Memorial Day weekend. The watch goes into effect on Friday afternoon and continues through Saturday evening. Over the weekend, temperatures are forecast to climb into the 60s and 70s across southcentral Alaska. The warming temperatures, along with low relative […]

  • Politics

    Trump agrees to debate Sanders; Fox News is ‘interested’

    by Associated Press on May 26, 16:10

    WASHINGTON (AP) – Donald Trump is welcoming Bernie Sanders’ proposal that they meet in a debate but is setting a high price for participating. His condition: The hosting TV network would have to put up millions of dollars for charity. Representatives for Fox News and ABC News say the networks are “interested” in hosting such […]

  • Crime

    Drunk man steals front end loader, smashes it into liquor store and runs from police

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on May 26, 12:51

      ANCHORAGE — An intoxicated man led Anchorage police on a chase early Thursday morning after stealing a front end loader from a construction site, then crashing it into a liquor store and stealing booze. Police were called to the Brown Jug Liquor store at 2200 Northern Lights Blvd. around 3:20 a.m. Thursday after a […]

  • Crime

    Two men arrested in connection with East Anchorage shootings

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on May 26, 12:25

    The Anchorage Police Department has arrested and charged two men in connection with two East Anchorage shootings Thursday. According to a release from APD, both shootings happened just after 11 a.m. Thursday. Police said they were first notified of an incident involving a gun at the 4300 block of E. 9th Avenue. Police were told […]