Five years ago research identified Alopecia as a part of a family of auto-immune diseases which shares similar genes to rheumatoid arthritis. Type 1 diabetes and and multiple sclerosis, where the immune system attacks the body’s own tissues.
This has led to the beginning of a new generation of ‘biological’ treatments aimed at blocking the proteins responsible for rheumatoid arthritis, specifically, tumor necrosis factor blocker (TNF). But could this lead to a breakthrough for Alopecia sufferers too?
Extraordinarily there seems little scientific interest in finding out after the failure of initial tests as funding bodies are somewhat disinterested in backing research into non-life threatening medical conditions.
A 34-year old Alopecia sufferer unwilling to wait indefinitely came in the form of Glasgow-based permanent make-up artist Jayne Waddell, who has set up a charity called Auto-immune Research UK (AAR-UK). Having lived with the condition for sixteen years since it first struck her as a shy 18 year old student, Jayne has met many fellow sufferers in the course of her business who, like her, also lost their eyebrows and eyelashes as a result of the condition as well as their hair. She determined to help them by establishing not only the charity, but a ‘bio-bank’ where blood, tissue and gut bacteria (among other samples) can be collected from Alopecia sufferers at diagnosis and compared and contrasted to find the common elements and patterns. Jayne believes such research could even benefit those suffering from other auto-immune disorders and encourage faster progress generally in the field of auto-immune treatments.
‘We’re all still being referred to a dermatologist who shrugs and tells us nothing can be done. I think we deserve better from the medical profession’ says Jayne.
And the trichologist Jayne! And the trichologist! There will never ever be a TV series called ‘Call the Trichologist!’ Though at least the tea and sympathy is moderately better at the Trichologist’s office.
Meantime, thank goodness for Aspiration Hair – the next best solution to natural growing hair.