A drug originally developed to treat arthritis has had amazing results on a patient with an extreme form of alopecia, thanks to scientists at Yale University. After an eight month trial on the medication, the patient who originally was nearly completely void of any hair was able to not only grow a full head of golden locks, but also hair all over  his body.

Every now and then medicine which was developed for one condition proves to be incredibly useful in treating another. The most famous of these is Viagra, a drug that was first created as a treatment for anginas but now rakes in about $1.9 billion dollars a year helping men reverse their erectile dysfunction. A new medication, called tofacitinib citrate, may join the list of hugely successfully drug originally developed for another purpose. Scientists at Yale found the FDA-approved arthritis drug to be hugely successful in treating extreme hair loss, CBS Boston reported.

The research, which was published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology, showed promising results for a 25-year-old patient who suffered from alopecia universalis. This incurable condition caused him to have almost no hair anywhere on his body. In not even a year the drug helped the young man to grow a thick head of hair as well as “eyebrows, eyelashes, and facial, armpit, and other hair,” CBS Boston reported.  Even more exciting, the patient reported no noticeable side effects. Scientists are thrilled with the patient’s hair growth. “The results are exactly what we hoped for. This is a huge step forward in the treatment of patients with this condition,” Brett A. King, senior author on the trial’s study told CBS Boston.

hair Journal of Investigative Dermatology

 

So far there has only been one case that has shown such amazing results in the treatment of alopecia universalis. The researchers, however, “believe the same results will be duplicated in other plans,” and they make it clear that tests on the medication will continue. In fact, King has already submitted a proposal for a clinical trial of the drug.

Alopecia universalis causes round patches of complete baldness. Patients with this condition usually lack hair on the entirety of their scalp and body. It is listed as an autoimmune disease and in patients with this rare condition, their immune system attacks their hair follicles. Although certain medications have resulted in temporary hair regrowth in some patients, alopecia universalis remains through the individual’s lifetime.

The drug was also found to be successful in the treatment of psoriasis, an autoimmune disease which affects skin cells. 

Source: King, BA, Craiglow, BG.  Killing Two Birds with One Stone: Oral Tofacitinib Reverses Alopecia Universalis in a Patient with Plaque Psoriasis. Journal of Investigative Dermatology. 2014.