A new research has found that a combination of two drugs can inhibit a group of enzymes in hair follicles, offering a potential baldness cure. Though cancer treatments are linked to hair loss, some drugs, called JAK inhibitors, can help in hair growth.
The two FDA approved drugs — tofacitinib and ruxolitinib were tested as treatments for a rare form of hair loss called alopecia areata. This condition is caused by immune’s system attack on hair follicles, and the drugs helps in suppressing the inappropriate immune responses. Ruxolitinib is used to treat blood diseases and tofacitinib for rheumatoid arthritis. Though researchers said the finding is not a cure for male baldness, they acknowledged its potential to get there.
“There aren’t many compounds that can push hair follicles into their growth cycle so quickly,” said Dr. Angela Christiano, a researcher at Columbia University Medical Center. The researchers reported that the drugs triggered hair growth. She said:
“Not only can JAK inhibitors induce a new hair cycle in mouse skin but also can extend an existing growth phase in human follicles, suggesting they may have a broader applicability across several different forms of hair loss.”
Christiano said that the drugs were affecting hair follicles directly, puts the hair into “rest” stage, and the inhibitors allow the hair to enter hair cycle. Researchers reported that when the compound was rubbed onto the skin of bald mice for five days, new hair sprouted in less than 10 days. Some topical agents induce tufts of hair here and there after a few weeks, but very few have such a potent and rapid acting effect, added Christiano.
These JAK inhibitors including tofacitinib and ruxolitinib are sold under the brand name Xeljanz. however, it would be dangerous to use them for cosmetic correction like male baldness as it can suppress the immune system. The drug combination has not been tested in humans. Columbia University stated that the university has filed a patent applications relating to the discovery, and are being commercialized through Vixen Pharmaceuticals, Inc, of which Dr. Christiano is the founder. The study has been published in the journal Science Advances.
For more about hair loss, try the American Academy of Dermatology.