JAK Inhibitors - What are they and how effective are they?

What are JAK inhibitors? JAK stands for Janus kinase, and JAK inhibitors are an encouraging next-generation treatment tool for cancer and inflammatory diseases. This family of medications interfere with the production of the Janus kinase family of enzymes. In turn this means that the auto-immune responses that this JAK enzymes cause can be prevented. This has lead to JAK inhibitors being investigated as a potential treatment for Alopecia Areata.


Alopecia Areata is caused by an autoimmune response to attack the hair follicle. It is unknown why the hair follicle sends out this signal, but so far there are no cures or even ways to predict Alopecia Areata. When we through a JAK inhibitor into the mix we can interfere will the signal that is being sent out to the immune system. This would allow the hair that is being attacked to recover and grow successfully in theory. 


To date JAK inhibitors have received a number of FDA approvals to treat the following: myelofibrosis, polycythemia vera, rheumatoid arthritis and dermatits. There are plenty of ongoing clinical trials to show JAK inhibitors potential to treat a whole range of illnesses and diseases including Alopecia Areata. In the studies conducted so far there has been a clear trend of positive results. In one trial of 66 men and women, 32% had a brisk response to the medication over three months. Another trial using 13 adolescents, 9 experienced complete hair growth. 


So there is potential here for JAK inhibitors to be used as a treatment for Alopecia Areata, but it is by no means going to be the solution for every unfortunate sufferer. With time and more clinical trial information at our disposal we will have a better idea if this can be a successful clinical treatment that could help thousands! 

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