Arthritis Drug Makes Hairless Man Very Hairy

25-year-old grew full head of hair, plus everything from eyebrows to armpit hair

By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff

Posted Jun 20, 2014 8:36 AM CDT | Updated Jun 22, 2014 7:00 PM CDT

(Newser) – It turns out an FDA-approved rheumatoid arthritis drug might just cure baldness—at least the form caused by a rare immune disease. During an eight-month trial of the drug, a 25-year-old man whose body was nearly hairless grew, well, a lot of it, including plenty atop his head, armpit hair, eyebrows, and eyelashes, Yale researchers say. The scalp and facial hair he grew was the first he'd grown there in seven years. The man, who suffers from a rare disease known as alopecia universalis, reported no side effects after taking tofacitinib citrate, which had reversed a less severe form of alopecia in mice and been used to treat plaque psoriasis, a skin condition the man also suffered from, according to Science World Report.

A co-author of the paper reporting the results noted, "We've seen no lab test abnormalities, either." Alopecia universalis, which causes the immune system to attack hair follicles, has no cure or approved long-term treatment, making this "a huge step forward in the treatment of patients with this condition," a researcher explained in a study of the case. "While it's one case ... we believe the same results will be duplicated in other patients, and we plan to try." The drug was only somewhat effective in treating the man's psoriasis. (Another big breakthrough could lead to treatments for baldness.)

These panels show the patient's head a) before treatmen with tofacitinib, b) two months into treatment, c) five months into treatment, and d) eight months into treatment.   (Yale University)
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