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Bald Hope

November 4, 2015

An arthritis drug may inspire a new class of topical hair-restoring treatments.



Science Update host Bob Hirshon sports a bald head. (AAAS)

Waking up dormant hair follicles. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Hair growth seems to get a kick-start from a family of drugs that block the actions of an enzyme called Janus kinase, or JAK. The drugs are currently taken orally to treat rheumatoid arthritis and a blood disease, but in the journal Science Advances, Columbia University Medical Center researcher Angela Christiano and her colleagues report that JAK-inhibitors stimulate hair growth in lab mice when applied to the skin.

ANGELA CHRISTIANO (Columbia University Medical Center):

The drug also has potency in our hair induction assays in human cells, suggesting that it could also potentially influence the start of a human hair cycle as well as extending it.


The drug also led to hair growth when applied to human follicles in the lab. The team is now determining whether it will awaken dormant hair follicles in people with patterned baldness and other conditions. Despite being FDA approved for other uses, the JAK inhibitors will take at least several years of testing to determine whether they’re safe and effective for hair loss.  I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.