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Baldness Remedy Discovered By Columbia University Researchers

Researchers have discovered two different drugs that could potentially cure baldness in humans. The drugs are known as JAK inhibitors; tofacitinib is a treatment for rheumatoid arthritis, and ruxolitinib is used to treat rare blood cancers.

Columbia University Researchers tested topical ruxolitinib and tofacitinib on mice suffering from alopecia areata, a condition where the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks its own hair follicles, causing hair loss.

Mice had half of their body periodically treated with the cream, while the other half was ignored. Within three weeks, the right side of their body — where the drug was applied — experienced almost a complete restoration of hair.

Angela Christiano, Associate Professor of Molecular Dermatology at Columbia University, told NBC News that the real surprise was the speed in which the hair grew back. In cream form, the drug restored hair much quicker than when it was originally tested through oral consumption.

The surprise was when we started using the drugs on alopecia areata patients, when we used them topically the hair grew back much faster and more robustly than it did orally.

The drug was initially discovered to be a potential treatment for baldness in 2014, though researchers in this instance had been testing the drug orally, not directly on the skin. Even orally, the drug was effective, producing results in around five months.

Dr. Christiano explained that a topical solution applied directly to the skin would be much safer than ingesting the drug orally, where the side effects from suppressing the body’s immune system far outweigh the benefits of correcting baldness. Some of the side effects include infections and cancer, but the risk of either of these would be considerably lower when used in cream form.

In addition, applying directly to the skin also appears to be more effective because more of the drug is put in contact with the hair follicles.

Statistics from The American Academy of Dermatology show that approximately 80 million people in the United States suffer from thinning hair or baldness. While treatment options exist such as Rogaine, their ability to completely correct baldness is limited.

Perhaps the most significant setback in using the new drugs as a treatment for baldness is their cost. U.S. News reports that the price could range from $3,000 to $9,000 per month, and that doesn’t factor in the costs to convert the drugs into a hair loss product.

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