GONE TODAY, HAIR TOMORROW: Topical Application of JAK Inhibitors Awakens Resting Hair Follicles; Treatment May Prove Effective in Restoring Hair Growth in Multiple Forms of Hair Loss, But Not Yet Shown

Inhibiting a family of enzymes inside hair follicles that are suspended in a resting state restores hair growth, a new study from researchers at Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) has found. The research was published online on October 23, 2015 in an open-access article in Science Advances. The article is titled “Pharmacologic Inhibition of JAK-STAT Signaling Promotes Hair Growth.” In experiments carried out with mouse and human hair follicles, Angela M. Christiano (photo), Ph.D., and CUMC colleagues found that drugs that inhibit the Janus kinase (JAK) family of enzymes promote rapid and robust hair growth when applied direcly to the skin. [Note that the press release, for which a link is provided below, includes a video of Dr. Christiano explaining her group's new findings.] The study raises the possibility that drugs known as JAK inhibitors could be used to restore hair growth in multiple forms of hair loss such as that induced by male-pattern baldness, and additional types that occur when hair follicles are trapped in a resting state. Two JAK inhibitors have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for other indications. One is approved for the treatment of blood diseases (ruxolitinib) and the other for rheumatoid arthritis (tofacitinib). Both JAK inhibitors are currently being tested in clinical trials for the treatment of plaque psoriasis and alopecia areata, an autoimmune disease that causes hair loss. "What we've found is promising, though we haven't yet shown it is effective for male-pattern baldness," said Dr. Christiano. "More work needs to be done to test formulations of JAK inhibitors specially made for the scalp to determine whether they can induce hair growth in humans." Dr.
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