According to doctors at Yale University, a man with almost no hair on his body has grown a full head of it after a novel treatment - with a drug routinely used to treat arthritis.
There is currently no cure for alopecia universalis, the disease that left this particular 25-year-old patient completely devoid of hair. This is the first reported case of a successful targeted treatment for this rare, yet highly visible disease.
Incredibly, the patient has also grown eyebrows and eyelashes - along with facial, armpit and other hair, which he lacked before his therapy began.
According to the physicians at Yale, this is a huge step forward in the treatment of patients with this condition even though it’s just one case. That’s because they anticipated the successful treatment of this patient based on their current understanding of the disease and the drug. They are optimistic that their positive results will be duplicated in other patients.
This patient had previously been diagnosed with both alopecia universalis - which results in loss of all body hair - as well as plaque psoriasis, a condition which manifests as scaly red areas of skin.
The physicians at Yale believed it might be possible to address both diseases simultaneously using an existing drug for rheumatoid arthritis, which had previously been used successfully to treat psoriasis in humans.
After two months of therapy with the arthritis drug, the patient's psoriasis showed improvement and he had also grown scalp and facial hair - his first in seven years. After three more months of therapy, he had completely regrown his scalp hair and also had clearly visible eyebrows, eyelashes and facial hair, as well as armpit and other hair.
By eight months there was full regrowth of his hair, with no side effects. The Yale doctors saw nothing abnormal in his lab results either.
According to experts, this particular arthritis drug appears to boost hair regrowth in alopecia universalis by turning off the immune system attack on hair follicles that is typical of the disease.
Additionally, the drug was also mildly effective in this patient's condition of psoriasis.