Washington: For the bald, this is good news. A man with almost no hair on his body has grown a full head of it, including eyebrows, eyelashes as well as facial, armpit and other hair, with a drug meant to treat arthritis.
The patient was diagnosed with alopecia universalis, a rare disease that results in loss of all body hair, and plaque psoriasis, a condition characterised by scaly red areas of skin.
"The results are exactly what we hoped for. This is a huge step forward in the treatment of patients with this condition," said Brett A King, an assistant professor of dermatology at Yale University's school of medicine.
The only hair on the patient's body was within the psoriasis plaques on his head.
He was referred to Yale University's dermatology department for treatment of the psoriasis. The alopecia universalis was never treated.
Doctors used an existing FDA-approved drug for rheumatoid arthritis called tofacitinib citrate.
The drug had been used successfully for treating psoriasis in humans.
It had also reversed alopecia areata - a less extreme form of alopecia - in mice.
There is currently no cure or long-term treatment for alopecia universalis.
After two months on tofacitinib at 10 mg daily, the patient's psoriasis showed some improvement, and the man had grown scalp and facial hair - the first hair he had grown there in seven years.
After three more months of therapy at 15 mg daily, the patient had completely regrown scalp hair and also had clearly visible eyebrows, eyelashes, and facial hair, as well as armpit and other hair, the doctors said.
"By eight months, there was full regrowth of hair. The patient has reported feeling no side effects, and we have seen no lab test abnormalities either," said co-author of the study Brittany G Craiglow.
The results were published online in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology.