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People who went bald from alopecia saw their hair grow back almost entirely after testing a new drug in a clinical trial

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  • The first drug developed to treat alopecia areata has shown promising results in clinical trials.

  • Alopecia areata is the second most common form of hair loss, affecting 2% of people.

  • Several treatment options will soon be approved by the FDA.

An experimental drug has restored nearly full hair in some people with the second most common type of alopecia, according to clinical trial results shared Monday.

Alopecia areata is a skin condition that causes hair loss in about 2% of the population according to recent estimates, or more than 6 million people in the United States at some point in their lives.

The disease directs a person’s immune system to attack their hair follicles, causing hair to fall out entirely or in patches. Hair follicles can regrow naturally over months or years, but there are no approved drugs to treat autoimmune disease.

Concert Pharmaceuticals, a small company based in Lexington, Massachusetts, is one of the few drugmakers working on treatments for the disease.

Results from the first of two Phase 3 clinical trials of Concert’s twice-daily pill, called CTP-543, showed significant hair regrowth in about 30 to 40 percent of volunteers who received the drug, according to a press release. The trial included a mid-dose and high-dose group, as well as a group that received an inactive placebo.

In both experimental groups, more than a quarter of participants saw at least 80% hair coverage at the end of the 24-week study, Concert Pharmaceuticals said.

“Eighty percent is a lot. I’d take that,” alopecia advocate Thea Chassin, founder of Bald Girls Do Lunch, who was not involved in the clinical trial, told Insider. “It’s very important to recognize that some hair grows, if it was a lower number like 20 or 30%, it’s hair but it’s not a hairstyle.”

Some of the best evidence for alopecia areata treatment to date

If results from Concert’s second Phase 3 trial are also positive, the drug could be eligible for Food and Drug Administration approval in 2023. Until then, people with alopecia may have other options. treatment.

Eli Lilly and Company, a much bigger player in the pharmaceutical industry, is expected to seek approval for its own drug to treat alopecia areata in the coming weeks, wrote dermatologist and hair loss expert Maryanne Senna in an email to Insider.

The company reported similarly positive results from phase 3 trials of baricitinib, a pill currently approved for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. Like alopecia areata, rheumatoid arthritis occurs when immune cells begin to attack healthy cells: the joints in the case of arthritis or the follicles in alopecia.

In severe cases, people with alopecia areata may lose hair on their body and face, including eyelashes and nose hair, as well as on their head. Chassin, who is completely bald, said the condition can also affect healthy nail growth, leading to painful split nails.

Chassin told Insider that her experience with the disease made her more confident in herself and her style, as she developed a collection of hats, wigs and bandages. But even the possibility of treatment could help alleviate the mental toll that accompanies hair loss, she said.

“You look at yourself, and you don’t recognize yourself, and that can lead to anxiety and depression,” Chassin said. “And then the second blow is that your dermatologist will often say, ‘I have nothing to offer you. So there was no hope.”

Senna, who has treated patients and conducted research on hair loss treatments, said the psychological and social impacts of these new drugs cannot be underestimated.

“When my patients and study subjects regrow their hair with these treatments, I see their smiles coming back,” Senna said. “They’re like, ‘I feel like I got my life back, I feel like myself again.'”

Read the original Insider article

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