We have a new and promising medicine against baldness (but it will not work for all alopecias)

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It has recently hit the news approval in the United States of a new drug against alopecia areata. What is undoubtedly good news has caused great interest, although it is convenient to clarify that this type of hair loss is not what we frequently find on a day-to-day basis.


what is alopecia areata?
The alopecia areata It is an autoimmune disease, that is, it occurs when it is our immune system which attacks the body itself. In this case, it is primed with the hair follicles. The disease can affect men and women at different ages. Its main (and often only) symptom, “patchy” hair loss, does not usually last except in some cases. The most serious cases are associated with early onset of the disease, the appearance of eczema or generalized loss of body hair.

treatment so far.
Except in cases where hair loss is generalized, the affected areas usually recover without the need for treatment in a matter of months. However, some treatments used so far have included steroid injection, ultraviolet therapy, and skin-applied medications.

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What is the new treatment?
The drug Baricitinib, marketed as Olumiant, is an oral anti-inflammatory treatment originally intended to treat rheumatoid arthritis. Its use, in combination with other medications, was also approved to treat some cases of Covid.

Before being approved for new use, the treatment was tested in several randomized, placebo-controlled studies. The details of these were published as article in the magazine New England Journal of Medicine.

The treatment can count, yes, with secondary effects. These include upper respiratory tract and urinary tract infections, headache, acne, anemia, or hyperlipidemia (high cholesterol), among others.

Without a definitive remedy against “common” alopecia.
There are different reasons that can lead to hair loss or alopecia, being alopecia areata just a specific disease. Excluding specific cases like this or hair loss as a result of medical treatments, there are no known definitive remedies against alopecia. Hair loss that is not caused by disease or other external factors is often linked to age and hormonal changes related to it. There are many factors associated with this form of alopecia, but the two main known ones are genetics and stress (either physical or emotional).

There are some treatments and open routes that deserve consideration, both surgical (hair grafts) and chemical, such as finasteride or monoxidil. The latter, for example, is a compound originally devised as a drug against hypertensionbut which is used topically administered to treat baldness. Finasteride, on the other hand, is consumed orally and its main application is not to treat baldness but benign prostatic hypertrophy.

A recent study compared the effectiveness of these two drugs to a third, dutasteride. It was the latter that presented best results when fighting male androgenic alopecia. Also in this case it is a medication with another primary objective, in this case treating prostate problems.

The future of the fight against alopecia.
Stem cells could represent the next step in hair loss treatments. The hair growth process necessarily goes through the stem cells of the hair follicle. This makes it important to understand how they go about their work, what proteins activate them, and under what conditions they turn off. These cells can even be cultured to become hair follicles that will later be used in treatments.

Given the role of heredity in hair loss, another logical avenue of investigation is genetics. A job published in October in natural aging studied the role of various genes in the “escape” of stem cells from hair follicles. We will have to wait years for advances like this to bear fruit. The truth is that for now the treatments are limited and we will have to continue living with this and other symptoms of age.

Image | abbassima

It has recently hit the news approval in the United States of a new drug against alopecia areata. What is…

It has recently hit the news approval in the United States of a new drug against alopecia areata. What is…

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