Hair growth achieved after complete hair loss
Many people suffer from hair loss during their lifetime, which often results in impaired self-esteem and mental health problems. This is especially true for women who suffer from hair loss. Some people already meet at a young age. However, a drug approved for the treatment of eczema could cause the hair to grow again in an affected person – even though a complete bald head had been present for years.
In the journal "JAMA Dermatology", doctors are currently reporting on the case of a 13-year-old female patient who had alopecia totalis (complete hair loss) and who achieved new hair growth with the drug dupilumab. For the first time ever, the drug, which is approved for the treatment of eczema, has helped restore full hair growth in Alopecia totalis, according to researchers at the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and Harvard Medical School.
Through the eczema drug dupilumab new hair growth could be initiated in a patient with complete baldness. (Image: American Medical Association / own editing)
The patient was already bald at the age of two
According to the doctors, the patient had already lost all hair at the age of two years. In addition to the alopecia totalis also had on the scalp eczema occurred, which caused the doctors to treat with dupilumab. Dupilumab is approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of moderate to severe eczema (including atopic dermatitis). During treatment with Duplilumab, the patient had developed significant hair growth.
Treatment with dupilumab injections
The patient had been suffering from extensive, treatment-resistant eczema since she was seven months old, the researchers report. The treatment with drugs such as prednisone and methotrexate, which can suppress the overactive immune system, although led to a limited improvement in eczema, but achieved no regrowth of hair and was eventually stopped. As of July 2017, the patient was treated weekly with injections of dupilumab, recently approved by the FDA.
New hair growth achieved
After six weeks of dupilumab treatment, not only was there a significant improvement in eczema symptoms, but the physicians also noticed that fine, light hair, the vellus hairs, grew on the scalp. After seven months, the patient had a significant amount of the pigmented hair that typically grows on the scalp. Due to a change in her insurance coverage, the patient had to discontinue dupilumab for two months, during which time she noticed that the recently regrown hair disappeared. But after resuming treatment in April 2018, hair growth continued to increase and continued.
"We were quite surprised, as this patient had no hair from the age of two, and other hair loss treatments were unsuccessful in her case," says study leader Maryanne Makredes Senna, a dermatologist at MGH. "As far as we know, this is the first hair growth report with dupilumab in a patient with alopecia areata," the expert said.
Further studies already planned
One possible explanation for the effect of Senna is that Dupilumab targets a key pathway of the immune system that is known to be overactive in eczema. Recent studies have shown that other elements of the same path can induce autoimmune hair loss. Although it is currently difficult to say "if dupilumab could induce hair growth in other alopecia patients, I suspect that it may be helpful in patients with extensive active eczema and active alopecia areata," said the study director. Further studies on the effect of dupilumab treatment in this patient group are already planned. (Fp)