As another type of JAK inhibitor achieves FDA approval we ask, if using the variant for treating alopecia areata, are JAK inhibitors the cure for thinning hair?
Female Pattern Hair Loss
It is a problem most of us will face at some point. We have seen variations of this new type of drug making big impacts on other treatments. We ask, are JAK inhibitors the cure for thinning hair?
The characteristic advance of hair loss for women is very different to men. The hairline typically remains intact while the loss is across the top of the scalp all the way back to the crown. At the same time, age-related changes in our chemical makeup mean that the hair we do have starts to get thinner. The rate of growth also slows and it does not grow as long. In addition, the follicle will spend more of its time in the rest phase. The combination of some or all of these will affect well over 50% of women by the time they are in their forties. The age at which it will start, the rapidity of its advance, the point at which it stops or slows, all of these will vary wildly.
It is believed that the hair follicle, over time, becomes a target for the immune system. Once a follicle has been destroyed it does not come back to life, eventually being absorbed leaving bare skin in its place.
JAK Inhibitors (JAKs)
JAKs act by interfering with the signalling system the body uses to control the immune system. The idea is that it might be possible to control that messaging and stop, or even reverse, hair loss. JAKs have already proved effective in other areas of medicine and is considered either a tool or a potential one against any immune disorder. Up to and including cancer. Earlier this month news broke that the FDA has approved a JAK treatment for use against moderate to severe rheumatoid arthritis. A drug set to make a difference in the lives of millions. It is the ability of the scientists to target very specifically for the pathways they want to interfere with that makes it a great new set of tools. You can read the full details of their announcement here.
No surprise against that backdrop that another piece of news about JAKs has crept under the radar. Aclaris announced an end to a successful Phase 2 trial which has shown their oral treatment for alopecia areata to be both effective and safe. The promise of any sort of medication for that condition is to be welcomed. It primarily affects young people. But researchers noticed something else during their trial. Something that might have implications for tens of millions of women.
Hair Growth Promise
It was noted during testing of a topical version that hair beyond the area of loss was seen to improve. It grew faster, thicker and longer according to the studies notes. At the time this went largely unmentioned. But fast forward to now and it seems one of the lead researchers has grabbed the bull by the horns here. She has set up a business called Rapunzel which aims to bring a topical version of this treatment to market. Topical versions of this type of medication and others for hair loss have proved effective in the past, some even achieving better results than their oral counterpart.
The Hair Ambulance
We will keep our ears to the ground for news on Aclaris’ stated aim, which is to find a partner to take their JAK inhibitor project through to the next stage of trials. Which is where things start to get expensive for developers of oral medication. We wish them luck and will report back on their progress. Between here and there though, because the barriers to entry with a topical medicine are so much lower, we expect to be able to report on Rapunzel before the end of this year.
The Hair Ambulance brings world-leading hair loss solutions to your door. Hair loss is no longer inevitable. Use the contact form here to either arrange a home visit or book a consultation at one of our private hair loss clinics. Early intervention is a necessity. Do not delay if you are concerned about your hair loss.