Alopecia areata patients now have a reason to be optimistic as investigational new drugs targeting this autoimmune disease are showing that evidence-based medicine will arrive for alopecia areata treatment.
Where are we now?
There are currently no evidence-based medicines approved for alopecia areata treatment on the market, many available treatments and ‘cures’ are based solely on steroid applications thought to suppress that local immune reaction that causes the irritation of hair follicles leading to alopecia areata.
Why the new optimism?
Many pharmaceutical companies are granting significant research grants sponsoring on-going studies into alopecia areata treatment. This follows increasingly positive results of the ‘JAK inhibitor’ oral therapy trials.
Janis Kinase inhibitors (JAK) are currently available, including tofacitinib (Xeljanz), baricitinib (Olumiant) and ruxolitinib (Jakafi), but none have been approved for alopecia areata treatment at this time.
What are JAK inhibitors?
Molecular biology research is now producing exciting emerging alternatives for autoimmune diseases, the most promising of which are Janus Kinase inhibitors (also known as JAK inhibitor, JAK or JAKis).
At a high level Janus Kinase is part of a family of intracellular signal pathways responsible for transferring proteins between cells. Treatment using inhibitors begin to evidence that inflammatory responses can truly be suppressed, allowing hair follicles to return normal function.
How is the research going?
There are several studies using targeting therapies researching alternatives to alopecia areata treatment and other autoimmune diseases. Patients suffering from alopecia areata, alopecia totalis and alopecia universalis have taken part, many showing promising results.
The most recent studies include multicentre, double-blind and placebo-controlled randomised testing of patients using an oral Janus kinase inhibitor (JAK3), an oral tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TYK2) or a placebo.
Using the Severity of Alopecia Tool (SALT) a mean baseline of over 85% SALT was recorded. At almost six months into the trials, the score had dropped by a mean of over 33% for the JAK 3 inhibitor and almost 50% for the TYK 2 inhibitor group.
So each of the trialled Janus kinase inhibitors individually showed very impressive results, including efficacy, acceptable safety and tolerability for treatment of chronic moderate to severe alopecia areata.
Most notably SALT improvement score of 0% was recorded for placebo-treated controls, due to the success in recruiting patients with only truly chronic alopecia areata.
Continued research success using Janus kinase inhibitors will lead to evidence-based medicine for alopecia areata arriving.
The significant grant money in support of research from may pharmaceutical companies will only serve to accelerate the development of available alopecia areata treatment medicine.
Watch this space!