Gogglebox: Mica and Marcus discuss her alopecia
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New research from the Yale School of Medicine has found baricitinib to be effective at helping one third of patients with alopecia areata regrow their hair.
The results of the phase three trial have been published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Associate Professor at the Yale School of Medicine Dr Brett King said although they didn’t know why baricitinib was effective they thought it could work “by interrupting the messaging between hair follicles and immune cells that lead to immune cells attacking hair follicles and ultimately hair loss”.
Professor King continued to add: “When the messaging is interrupted, the immune cells leave hair follicles alone and the hair follicles can do what they are supposed to, that is, grow hair.”
All participants in the 1200 strong study were over the age of 18 and suffered from severe cases of alopecia areata.
During the 36 week trial they received either two or four milligrams of baricitinib each day or a placebo.
The group where baricitinib was most efficacious was that which received the four milligram dose.
However, as with other medications and other conditions, there were some side effects of the drug including:
• Elevated levels of creatine kinase
• Raise levels of both types of cholesterol.
Despite the positive results, trials continue to make sure baricitinib is not only effective but safe for wider use.
Nevertheless medicinal professionals such as Dr Amy McMichael have described the results as a “great outcome of great science that will ultimately change the lives of alopecia areata patients for the good”.
She added: “These trials tell us there is finally enough understood about the mechanism of alopecia areata that we can block the immunological process causing hair loss with an oral medication.”
Alopecia and the act of losing hair quickly can be a distressing time for those affected by the disease; in the UK it affects 15 people in every 10,000.
Hair loss, meanwhile, can have a number of causes other than alopecia such as:
• An illness
• Cancer treatment
• Weight loss
• Iron deficiency.
The NHS says: “Hair loss is not usually anything to be worried about, but occasionally it can be a sign of a medical condition.”
It is recommended by the NHS to see a GP if the hair loss is sudden, bald patches are developing, hair is falling out in clumps, the head itches or burns, or a person is worried about their hair loss.
At the appointment the GP will carefully examine the hair to identify any identifying marks or signs.
Sometimes it may be a case of hereditary hair loss, something that occurs at a certain time for certain families.
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