For millions of individuals worldwide who have receding hairlines, an experimental pill may just be the ultimate solution for their hair loss and baldness problems.

After identifying the immune cells responsible for hair loss in individuals with alopecia areata (AA), an auto-immune disease which occurs when the immune system wrongly attacks the hair follicles resulting in hair loss, medical researchers conducted a trial on a drug that could potentially cure the condition.

For the trial involving three patients with alopecia baldness, the researchers found that the pill fully restored the hair of the subjects; a breakthrough that scientists hope could pave way for a treatment that could help bald people regrow their hair.

Patients with alopecia areata often suffer from psychological and emotional distress. Rod Sinclair, a dermatologist from Melbourne, said that the condition could cause affected individuals, teenagers in particular, to become self-conscious and socially withdrawn. A report by Sinclair, which was published in the Medical Journal of Australia in 2012, also revealed of teenagers with alopecia areata attempting to commit suicide

"We've only begun testing the drug in patients, but if the drug continues to be successful and safe, it will have a dramatic positive impact on the lives of people with this disease," said Raphael Clynes, from Columbia University Medical Center in New York, who led the study published in the journal Nature Medicine on Aug. 17.

The trial was conducted following tests on mice that used two new drugs that belong to a class of medicine known as JAK inhibitors, ruxolitinib, which is approved for use in the U.S and E.U as treatment for patients with a form of bone marrow cancer, and tofacitinib, which is FDA- approved for treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. In the experiments conducted on mice, both ruxolitinib and tofacitinib fully restored the hair of mice with alopecia in just 12 weeks.

For the human trial, the researchers used ruxolitinib for patients who have moderate to severe alopecia areata with over 30 percent hair loss. Within four to five months after starting the treatment, the researchers reported that all of the three patients have restored their hair growth. The T-cells responsible for destroying the hair follicles also disappeared from the patients' scalp.

"Notably, three patients treated with oral ruxolitinib, an inhibitor of JAK1 and JAK2, achieved near-complete hair regrowth within 5 months of treatment, suggesting the potential clinical utility of JAK inhibition in human AA," Clynes and colleagues reported.

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