Treating Alopecia Areata: Emerging Therapies

Alopecia areata is a common cause of hair loss that can, unfortunately, sometimes be difficult to treat. The more severe the symptoms, the longer the symptoms have been present and the earlier in life you first developed them can all influence how well you respond to therapy. All these factors have contributed to variations in success rates of different therapies and as a result, there is no one best option, or even a single approved option. On the bright side however there are many “off-label” treatments which have been in long-time use and are supported by clinical evidence.

Additionally there have been recent advances in basic science and our understanding of the disease which may mean the introduction of new medication, procedures and devices. Since alopecia areata is an autoimmune disease, medication targeted to the immune system is currently under investigation. For instance, recent case studies and clinical trials with immunomodulators have produced some promising data1–4. Examples include tofacitinib and ruxolitinib. Of the two, tofacitinib is believed to have a more specific effect on alopecia areata5–8. Both drugs are already approved for use in other autoimmune disease, tofacitinib for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis9 and ruxolitinib for the treatment of myelofibrosis10. Side effects may include an increase in infection, anemia (a deficiency in blood cells), neutropenia (a deficiency in white blood cells), thrombocytopenia (a deficiency of blood platelets), headache and nausea8,11,12.

New research, a better understanding of the disease and new advancements in treatment options is always an exciting concept. Both tofacitinib and ruxolitinib are currently under investigation through clinical trials13,14 but will hopefully be available in the future. Talk to your doctor or hair restoration expert if you are interested in learning more about some of the emerging treatments for alopecia areata.

Article by: Dr. J.L. Carviel, PhD, Mediprobe Research Inc.


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