Washington: In a first, scientists have used an arthritis drug to successfully grow a full head of hair on a 25-year-old man suffering from a non-curable disease that left him without any hair on the body.
After the treatment, the man grew a full head of hair, eyebrows, eyelashes, armpit, facial and other hair on various parts of his body.
There is currently no cure or long-term treatment for alopecia universalis, the disease that left the patient bare of hair, researchers said.
This is the first reported case of a successful targeted treatment for the rare, highly visible disease.
"The results are exactly what we hoped for," said Brett A King, assistant professor of dermatology at Yale University School of Medicine and senior author of the research paper.
"This is a huge step forward in the treatment of patients with this condition. While it's one case, we anticipated the successful treatment of this man based on our current understanding of the disease and the drug. We believe the same results will be duplicated in other patients, and we plan to try," said King.
The patient had previously been diagnosed with both alopecia universalis, a disease that results in loss of all body hair, and plaque psoriasis, a condition characterised by scaly red areas of skin.
The only hair on his body was within the psoriasis plaques on his head. He was referred to Yale Dermatology for treatment of the psoriasis. The alopecia universalis had never been treated.
King believed it might be possible to address both diseases simultaneously using an existing FDA-approved drug for rheumatoid arthritis called tofacitinib citrate.