A GIRL of 13 left completely bald from alopecia has revealed her incredible transformation – after taking a drug for arthritis.
The unknown teen, from Brazil, slowly lost her long, dark hair over an agonising five years as standard medications failed to help.
Then doctors tried tofacitinib as a last-resort – but it is not yet licensed as a conventional treatment.
Tests of the drug, marketed as Xeljanz, have shown it can help alopecia patients regrow their hair.
Four months on, the girl regained a significant amount of her hair and was left with thick, brown locks within two years of taking tofacitinib.
Tofacitinib is routinely given to patients with rheumatoid arthritis.
Dermatologists say the type of alopecia the girl had is caused by the same process.
Medical student Rachel Berbert Ferreira, at Centro Universitario Cesumar, was the senior author of the paper in Clinical Case Reports.
She explained how the 13-year-old girl began experiencing hair loss in small patches on her head at the age of eight.
Her condition is known as alopecia areata, a type which does not cause scarring and can occur at any age.
The doctors had tried everything, from pills, injections and creams – some of which were painful on her skin.
She was then given the arthritis drug and monitored every four weeks while she took two pills a day.
Ms Ferreira said: “Significant hair growth was evident at the end of fourth month. No side effects were observed.”
The hair took the longest amount of time to grow at the back of the head at the bottom, where the hair loss had first started.
‘NO SIDE EFFECTS’
But after a year, that patch of hair had started to grow again and was soon back to normal.
Ms Ferreira wrote: “Alopecia areata is a common autoimmune disease, with a negative impact in health‐related quality of life, especially when affecting children and adolescents.
“Current medical therapies, mainly for severe disease, are not effective.
“JAK inhibitors are emerging as a promising therapy.”
Some studies show tofacitinib is effective for other conditions which are linked with inflammation – such as alopecia.
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Ms Ferreira added: “Contrary to the series reported, our patient had complete hair growth on the scalp.
“The case reported in this study is the youngest patient ever reported to be successfully treated with oral tofacitinib in Brazil for alopecia areata and its variants.”
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