Can A Cancer Treatment Give Hair Back?

Cancer treatment is typically known for causing hair loss. But could a drug used to treat bone marrow malignances cause hair growth?

According to the Journal of Clinical Investigation/Insight, an exciting new study by Columbia University Medical Centers found that three quarters of Alopecia areata sufferers reported hair regrowth when taking ruxolitinib, with 92% hair re-growth reported when taken over four months.

The drug is said to work by inhibiting DHT enzymes, known to miniaturise hair follicles, allowing hair to regrow.

The study was small, involving only 12 patients with moderate to severe hair loss (ie over 30%), but results were encouraging. Side effects appeared to be minor and temporary, mostly skin conditions. However as with most hair loss treatments, once the drug is discontinued, hair loss was found to return, if not as severely as before.

Researchers tested ruxolitinib on 12 patients with moderate to severe forms of alopecia areata (one patient pictured before taking the drug)
Taken over four months, the drug had an average hair regrowth of 92 per cent in responding patients (the same patient pictured after four months of treatment)

Interestingly, skin biopsies performed before, during, and after treatment also revealed that study patients had a reduced inflammatory response and higher levels of hair keratins.