Prior to this, the alopecia drugs that existed simply limited the effects or slowed the progression of male or female pattern baldness. The JAK inhibitors actually allow the hair to grow the way it did before the body saw it as a threat.
In the inital clinical trials on mice with alopecia areata, the drug stimulated regrowth after just ten days! The drug can be taken orally but performed even better when applied topically directly onto the affected spot!
It was found that the enzyme actually suppresses the T-cells responsible for alopecia while promoting regrowth. The results were so astounding that the scientists have high hopes that the drug will be as effective on other types of alopecia or hair loss over all.
The breakthrough came as a result of scientists sifting through genetic research and noticing that there is a way that they could trace the process of alopecia backwards to find what causes the onset. That is when they discovered the specific type of cells that cause alopecia and they were then able to isolate those cells and engineer the enzyme to combat them.
After witnessing the success of its use in the trial with the mice, the researchers decided to do a follow-up on human patients with moderate to severe cases of alopecia. The clinical trial on humans was facilitated by the researchers along with Julian Mackay-Wiggan, MD, MS, director of the Clinical Research Unit in the Department of Dermatology at CUMC and a practicing dermatologist at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia who treats patients with multiple types of hair loss.
The results further boosted their confidence in the drug as in three of the trial’s early participants, the drug completely restored hair growth within four to five months of starting treatment, and wiped any trace of the attacking T-cells from the scalp.
Prior to the discovery that ruxolitinib and tofacitinib could be used to target alopecia, the FDA had approved their use in treating blood disorders.
This is What Dr. Raphael Clynnes had to say with regard to the find:
We still need to do more testing to establish that ruxolitinib should be used in alopecia areata, but this is exciting news for patients and their physicians.  This disease has been completely understudied—until now, only two small clinical trials evaluating targeted therapies in alopecia areata have been performed, largely because of the lack of mechanistic insight into it.
The details of the study is documented in Dr. Christian’s paper. In it you can get a clearer picture of how the drug has impacted on patients who were a part of the study so if you are interested in following the progress or getting more details on it you may find the relevant information under the paper titled “Alopecia Areata is Driven by Cytotoxic T Lymphocytes and is Reversed by JAK Inhibition.”
The other contributors are Luzhou Xing, Zhenpeng Dai, Ali Jabbari, Jane E. Cerise, Claire Higgins, Weijuan Gong, Annemke de Jong, Sivan Harel, Gina M. DeStefano, Lisa Rothman, Pallavi Singh, Lynn.
It’s great that those suffering from hair loss can look toward the production of a drug that will provide lasting results. I look forward to seeing people beaming as a result of being given a second chance at growing lustrous hair in places that have long been barren.