How an Arthritis Pill is Shaking Up the Hair Restoration Industry
There’s a new arthritis pill that doctors say could help with hair loss in a way that hasn’t been seen before. The revelation came from a recent study conducted at Stanford, Yale and Columbia. Patients suffering from alopecia areata, an autoimmune disease that leads to hair loss, were prescribed an arthritis pill that resulted in positive hair growth.
So could this pill potentially help with male pattern baldness?
Male Pattern Baldness is a Worthy Foe
We live in a world where there are treatment methods for diseases and ailments that even 50 years ago would have seemed impossible. Considering how advanced our technology has become today, it seems like it shouldn’t be that difficult to get someone’s hair to grow. However, it’s not so simple.
Hair is not grass. You cannot just sprinkle a solution onto your bald scalp and expect luscious locks to grow overnight. There are many different reasons that one might lose their hair, some related to aging or genetics, and some related to other diseases, like alopecia areata. Treating the different types of hair loss is a difficult process, but a new drug could provide some hope on both fronts.
What is Alopecia Areata?
Alopecia areata is an autoimmune disease that causes a person to lose all, or some, of the hair on their body, usually from the scalp, due to the body’s failure to recognize its own cells. When the body attacks itself, it destroys healthy tissue and in this case, the body destroys its own hair. This usually results in circular bald spots throughout the scalp and, in some cases, it can spread to the entire scalp, facial hair or even all body hair. The most severe type of alopecia areata is known as alopecia universalis.
Current treatments for alopecia areata using steroid injections and/or creams don’t provide the desired effect for patients with the more severe disease, and can leave people frustrated and depressed. Steroid injections tend to provide help to smaller patches of hair loss, while creams or solutions alone aren’t as effective due to the fact that they can’t penetrate down to the level of the hair bulb as well. Oral steroids can be used but these tend to decrease the hair loss only during the period in which they are taken. They can also lead to some serious side effects so they can’t be used for long periods.
However, while it may seem like the current treatment options won’t provide the results you desire, the new study may shine light on rejuvenating hair loss.
How Xeljanz Could Help Alopecia Areata
Xeljnaz, a popular drug used to treat patients with rheumatoid arthritis, another autoimmune disease, has shown promise in helping to treat alopecia areata. More than half of the subjects that took part in the study conducted at Stanford, Yale and Columbia saw some hair regrowth while taking the drug, and a third recovered more than 50% of their lost hair. A separate study reported nine out of 12 patients with alopecia areata regrew more than 50% of their hair using a similar drug called Jakafi, which is used to treat cancer.
Patients who took part in the Xeljanz trial, and have experienced hair re-growth, have still shown signs of male pattern baldness. The hair that grew back due to the treatment was the hair that they would have had, regardless of whether or not they had the disease. In other words, a 47-year-old patient regrew the hairline he would have as a 47 year old man. It didn’t magically turn the clock back to when he was 25.
Although the test results are promising for those people suffering from alopecia areata, how can this help those with male pattern baldness?
Xeljanz for Male Pattern Baldness
With the success of the studies done using the pill form of Xeljanz to treat alopecia areata, Dr. Brett King at Yale is testing out an ointment that contains Xeljanz, which is applied directly to the scalp in areas where male pattern baldness has taken effect. There are no studies out there to confirm that using an ointment containing the drug will have the same effect as the pill form does, but another doctor, Dr. Angela Christiano, has had some success with an ointment after rubbing it onto the skin of mice. But don’t get your hopes up just yet; mice have skin that is quite different than humans. While these mice were bred to have skin similar to that of bald men, it is harder to penetrate human skin to properly deliver the drug to where it needs to go.
Male pattern baldness is a completely different problem than alopecia areata in that the latter is a disease, where as male pattern baldness is the genetic propensity of hairs to die out in response to hormonal stimulation. It’s easier to treat a disease than it is to change one’s genetics or bring something back from the dead, but these new studies have brought new hope to millions of people out there who suffer from hair loss.
While we wait to see how the results of these tests conclude, there are centers that deal directly with male pattern baldness, such as Limmer HTC, which offers treatments that don’t involve surgery, including:
- Platelet Rich Plasma injections
- Low-level Laser Light Therapy
- Special shampoo containing zinc
- Minoxidil (Rogaine) 5%
- Finasteride (Propecia) and Dustaride (Avodart)
Take a deep breath and immerse yourself in the small, yet steadily growing, world of treatments for male pattern baldness – and new treatments continue to emerge. Contact us to learn more about hair growth treatments at Limmer HTC.