Alopecia drug regrowth in 40% of patients with Jada Pinkett-Smith condition

Hundreds of thousands of people with alopecia areata can benefit from a drug that can cure baldness in months.

A study of the twice-daily pill found that four out of 10 patients with the condition were able to regrow almost full hair within half a year.

The chief scientist behind the drug is not expected to work for the millions of men who lose their hair as they age, however.

Alopecia is the general medical term for hair loss. Alopecia areata – one type of hair loss – is caused by the body attacking its own healthy hair follicles.

Made by the US drug company Concert Pharmaceuticals, the new therapy works by weakening the immune response, preventing it from spoiling.

There is currently no cure for alopecia areata – although other drug companies are also trying drugs to help reverse the hair loss. Steroids and other medications can help trigger hair growth, however.

About 100,000 people in the UK and 6.8 million in the US have the condition. It can rob people of their hair in a matter of weeks.

Due to the rapid rate of hair loss, the disease can cause low self-esteem, depression and anxiety.

Notable sufferers include actress Jada Pinkett Smith. Her husband Will Smith got into a controversy at this year’s Oscars in March after he slapped comedian Chris Rock on the cheek for joking about his wife’s baldness.

Pictured: Patient in previous Phase 2 clinical trials at the end of the 24-week study

Researchers at Yale University, Connecticut, have found that the experimental drug CTP-543 from Concert Pharmaceuticals has helped patients with alopecia areata grow back almost full head of hair. Pictured: Patient in previous Phase 2 clinical trials at the beginning (left) and end (right) of the 24-week study

What is the difference between alopecia and age-related hair loss?

Alopecia areata is caused by the body’s immune system attacking hair follicles.

The follicles hold hair in place, so when they are damaged, the hair begins to fall out.

It usually causes a circle or oval spots of baldness and can lead to someone completely hairless.

The disease can occur at any time in life and is unpredictable, with experts still unsure what in genetic makeup causes it.

Meanwhile, age-related hair loss is caused by hereditary factors.

In men it is called male pattern hair loss and in women it is called female pattern hair loss.

Genes inherited from both parents cause the follicles to shrink over time and eventually stop growing hair.

It can start in adolescence but is more common in later life.

It is not caused by an immune response and is therefore not affected by drugs aimed at suppressing the body’s defense system.

The newest three-trial phase looked at 706 adults with alopecia aged 18 to 65 in the United States, Canada and Europe over 24 weeks.

Patients on average had only 16 percent of their hair at the start of the trial, and no more than half of their hair.

They were spit into three groups who received a placebo, an 8mg twice daily pill or a 12mg twice daily dose.

Both the 8mg and 12mg groups saw statistically significantly more growth than the placebo group, researchers said.

A total of 41.5 percent given the strongest dose saw more than 80 percent of their hair grow back before the end of the study.

Among those in the 8mg group, 29.6 percent experienced the same level of regrowth.

Only 0.8 percent of the placebo group saw a resurgence to more than 80 percent of the scalp.

Side effects occurred in less than 5 percent of patients, with the most common reactions including headaches, acne, and infections.

The drug works by inhibiting a particular enzyme activated during an immune response, called JAK1 and JAK2.

These enzymes make up a group called janus kinases, and too many of them can lead to inflammatory immune reactions that cause alopecia.

But suppressing them can also lead to weaker immunity in general, resulting in more infections.

Concert Pharma is expected to seek approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the drug next year after a second Phase 3 trial that will repeat the study of 517 participants.

Approval will depend on positive results of the second test and could last up to 10 months.

Dr James Casella, chief development officer at Concert Pharmaceuticals, said: “With these compelling Phase 3 data, we believe that CTP-543 has the potential to be the best in the class treatment for patients with alopecia areata, a disease which has long been ignored.

‘We are extremely grateful to the patients and teams of clinical research professionals who are participating in our trials.

“We are working to change the medical landscape and hope that CTP-543 will be one of the first medical options approved by the FDA for this serious disease.”

Alopecia areata currently does not have any cure and doctors cannot predict how much hair someone is likely to lose after small spots begin to fall out.

But there is a 60 to 80 percent chance that hair will grow back naturally in the small areas when it falls out.

Among the most famous people with the disease include actress Jada Pinkett Smith

Among the most famous people with the disease include actress Jada Pinkett Smith

Her husband Will Smith got into controversy at this year's Oscars in March after he slapped comedian Chris Rock on the cheek for joking about his wife's baldness.

Her husband Will Smith got into controversy at this year’s Oscars in March after he slapped comedian Chris Rock on the cheek for joking about his wife’s baldness.

If hair grows back, it can last for months or years and usually begins as sparse white hair in the bald spots that can eventually thicken and regain its color.

Growth is less likely if everyone’s hair falls out.

Current treatments include corticosteroid injections, which are potent anti-inflammatory drugs that can suppress the immune system.

These can work in up to 62 percent of patients but also increase the risk of skin atrophy – thinning of the skin – by encouraging interest in new medications.

Dr. Brett King, a dermatologist at Yale University School of Medicine who led the study, said: “Today marks an important milestone in advancing new treatments for alopecia areata, and I am so happy to see such positive results Phase 3 trial with CTP-543.

“There is a great need for treatments for this difficult disease, and the results of the THRIVE-AA1 trial suggest that CTP-543 may be able to provide important therapy for treating alopecia areata.”

WHAT IS ALOPECIA AREATA?

Alopecia areata – a patchy version of alopecia – is an autoimmune condition in which the immune system causes hair to fall out.

It can affect hair on any part of the body and can affect anyone at any age – it can be triggered by stress.

The hair usually begins to fall out in spots and leaves bald, smooth areas.

It is not possible for doctors to predict how much hair someone will lose, nor can they tell if the hair will ever grow back.

Alopecia areata cannot be cured but if only bits of hair are lost, there is a 60 to 80 percent chance that it will grow back within a year.

However, there is no guarantee that it will grow back and doctors cannot predict whether it will be or how much hair will be lost.

If hair grows back, it can last for months or years and usually begins as sparse white hair in the bald spots that can eventually thicken and regain its color.

Growth is less likely if everyone’s hair falls out.

Source: British Skin Foundation

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.