Created as a way to treat the autoimmune disease rheumatoid arthritis, Xeljanz is a drug that's been surprisingly successful in treating Alopecia Universalis. We look at the results, how it works and some of the side effects of Xeljanz (also called Tofacitinib).
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Xelijanz was in the headlines not that long ago for its seemingly miraculous results in treating Alopecia. The drug was called a miracle cure by some and a dangerous risk to patients by others. Medication for Alopecia can be temperamental, with mixed results and varied side effects, and it seemed as though someone had found the answer to the suffer's prays.
However, the drug has been denied by the European Medicines Agency and is not available in the UK, with testing on it planned until the end of 2019. It's clear that this drug is still in its teething stages, so let's have a look at what it's achieved so far, how it's been modified as well as the reasons behind it being held back.
Xeljanz (Tofacitinib Citrate)
Xeljanz is the brand name for Tofacitinib Citrate, a Janus-associated kinase (JAK) inhibitor that disrupts intracellular activities inside the JAK pathways. These pathways are used to help control inflammatory and immune responses. Tofacitinib works by weakening the immune system of the patient. This ensures that when the immune system begins attacking the body it can be slowed down and prevented.
Tofacitinib Citrate was originally created to moderate to severe cases of rheumatoid arthritis, and so far the drug has been approved in the US, Japan, Argentina, Columbia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Russia and Switzerland.
The main problem was that Xeljanz cost too much, and the side effects for the sufferers of rheumatoid arthritis included respiratory tract infections, headaches, hypertension, diarrhoea and inflammation of the nasal passage. On the plus side, it seemed to be helping with the overall condition, so the drug stayed in circulation.
Yale Clinical Trial - Alopecia Universalis Cure
Scientists at Yale University used one of the first forms of the drug to treat a 25-year-old man who had a chronic immune-medicated condition called plaque psoriasis. As if things weren't bad enough, the man also had a rare form of Alopecia called Alopecia Universalis, which causes hair all over the body to fall out.
Alopecia Universalis treatments tended to be unsuccessful, but the team decided they might as well try and kill two birds with one stone so to speak. The man was put on an eight-month course of the drug, taking 10mg per day for two months, followed by 15mg per day for the next three months.
The drug was only mildly effective in treating his psoriasis but showed incredible results in terms of hair growth, and after having not grown hair in seven years, with the man grew back hair on his head, as well as eyelashes, eyebrows and body hair. Xeljanz had no side effects on the patient, and it seemed there was a cure for Alopecia at last.
Tofacitinib Topical Cream for Alopecia
After the Yale clinical trial, there was a lot of hype for the drug and hope that alopecia could be cured for good. However, as with many new drugs, certain tests needed to be done in order to prove that Tofacitinib was safe, and the European Medicines Agency found that there were too many side effects, such as increased blood cholesterol levels, gastrointestinal issues, liver damage and complications to do with the way the immune system work, to give it their approval.
This wasn't the end of things, however, and research was put into creating a topical cream of tofacitinib to combat hair loss. This has proven to be extremely successful, with tofacitinib treating Alopecia Areata in a number of patients. More research needs to be done to weed out any negative side effects, but the results are promising, and Xeljanz could end up being a cure for Alopecia as well as a number of other conditions.
On That Note
Right now there are still a number of side effects that can be cause for concern, especially if a person suffers from a number of health issues. However, with research and the right tests, there could be an effective treatment for a number of conditions, including all forms of Alopecia.