Scientists have identified new drugs that could stimulate rapid and robust hair growth, offering a potential cure for baldness.
The drugs inhibit a family of enzymes inside hair follicles that are suspended in a resting state, restoring hair growth, researchers said.
In experiments with mouse and human hair follicles, Angela M Christiano from Columbia University Medical Center and colleagues found that drugs that inhibit the Janus kinase (JAK) family of enzymes promote rapid and robust hair growth when directly applied to the skin.
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, researchers said.
Two JAK inhibitors have been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). One is approved for treatment of blood diseases (ruxolitinib) and the other for rheumatoid arthritis (tofacitinib). Both are 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 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,” she said.