A 13-year-old girl who was completely bald by her alopecia has made an incredible transformation after taking an arthritis medicine.
The unknown teenager from Brazil had slowly lost her hair for five years and standard medication did not help. Doctors tried tofacitinib as a last resort.
Tests of the drug, marketed as Xeljanz, have shown that alopecia patients can help their hair grow back – but it is not yet licensed as a conventional treatment.
After just four months, the girl recovered a considerable amount of hair. Within two years after taking tofacitinib, she got thick, brown locks.
The results contribute to the evidence that the drug can offer hope to millions of patients all over the world with alopecia, who have small chances to fully recover.
Tofacitinib is routinely given to patients with rheumatoid arthritis caused by inflammation. Dermatologists say that the type of alopecia that the girl had is caused by the same process.
After developing complete alopecia (photo), doctors started treatment with tofacitinib
The patient had grown a considerable amount of hair after four months and had a full head of thick hair within two years (photo, after 19 months)
The nameless teenager, who lives in Brazil, has suffered extreme hair loss for five years. Shown before it becomes completely bald
Medical student Rachel Berbert Ferreira of Centro Universitario Cesumar was the main author of the newspaper Clinical case reports.
She explained how the 13-year-old girl at the age of eight began to experience hair loss in small pieces on her head.
Her condition is known as alopecia areata, a type that does not cause scars and can occur at any age. A quarter of the cases are children.
The doctors had tried everything from pills, injections and creams – some of them painful on her skin.
Despite their efforts over the years, the girl had no reaction to treatment or was confronted with side effects such as acne and weight gain.
By the time the girl was put on tofacitinib, she already had hair loss on her head. She still had eyebrows and eyelashes.
The patient was checked every four weeks, taking two pills a day, and the results were amazing.
Mrs. Ferreira said: & # 39; Significant hair growth was evident at the end of the fourth month. No side effects were observed. & # 39;
The doctors had tried everything from pills, injections and creams. But nothing had worked. In the photo – before she became bald, the patient had lost most of her hair at the back of the head
It took longer before the hair grew here again, but it started to grow a year after the treatment (photo)
Tofacitinib, marketed as Xeljanz, is usually used for patients with rheumatoid arthritis
The hair took the longest time to grow at the back of the head at the bottom where the hair loss was first started.
But after a year, that lock of hair began to grow again and soon returned to normal.
Mrs. Ferreira said: & # 39; After a year of therapy, she had total hair growth. Our patient is still treated with tofacitinib after 19 months of therapy. & # 39;
Depending on the degree of hair loss, there is a good chance that, according to the British Skin Foundation, the hair will grow back within a year without treatment for four out of five people with alopecia areata.
However, those who have complete hair loss at any stage of alopecia areata have only a 10 percent chance of full recovery.
Mrs. Ferreira wrote: & # 39; Alopecia areata is a common autoimmune disease, with a negative impact on health-related quality of life, especially in children and adolescents.
& # 39; Current medical therapies, especially for serious diseases, are not effective.
Seven months of treatment with the arthritis drug tofacitinib
The girl is in a small minority of people who allow her entire hair to grow back after suffering from alopecia areata. Pictured, her hair after 19 months
& # 39; JAK inhibitors are emerging as a promising therapy. & # 39;
JAK inhibitors, such as tofacitinib, are a class of drugs that are most commonly used to treat rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
People with RA have too many proteins in their body, called cytokines, that play a role in inflammation.
JAK inhibitors stop the production of proteins involved in inflammation by blocking a message system. This calms the immune system and helps relieve RA.
There are some studies that show that tofacitinib is effective for other conditions related to inflammation – such as alopecia.
Inflammation can cause hair loss, but the underlying cause of the inflammation is unclear.
A review of evidence by Yale University in 2016 showed that 13 adolescents with different stages of alopecia achieved 70% hair regrowth after treatment with tofacitinib.
Mrs. Ferreira said: & # 39; Unlike the reported series, our patient had full hair growth on the scalp.
& # 39; The case reported in this study is the youngest patient ever successfully treated with oral tofacitinib in Brazil for alopecia areata and its variants. & # 39;
The girl also had an underactive thyroid gland (hypothyroidism), one of which is dry, thinning hair. For this she was also treated with hormonal tablets.
WHAT IS ALOPECIA AND HOW WAS IT TREATED WITH AN ARTHRITIS DRUG?
Alopecia is a general term for hair loss. Alopecia areata is a common cause of scar-free hair loss that can occur at any age.
There is no cure but different treatments to try and stimulate hair growth. Regrowth of hair in typical alopecia areata is common over a period of months or sometimes years, but cannot be guaranteed.
If more than half of the hair is lost, the chance of a full recovery is not good.
Hair is lost because it is affected by inflammation. The cause of this inflammation is unknown.
It is believed that the immune system can attack the growing hair.
Immunosuppressants, such as sulfasalazine, methotrexate, ciclosporin and azathioprinem, are occasionally used to treat severe alopecia areata that have not responded to other treatments.
Tofacitinib and ruloxitinib are potentially new immunosuppressive treatments for alopecia areata. These treatments are not yet available because further research is needed to confirm their beneficial effects on alopecia areata.
Tofacitinib (brand name Xeljanz) is part of the class of medicines called Janus kinase (JAK) inhibitors.
JAK & # 39; s are enzymes that play a role in activating the body's immune response, and tofacitinib blocks this process, which can stop the inflammatory process.
JAK's are used to treat the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disease that is also caused by inflammation.
Source: British Skin Foundation
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