Researchers Regrow Hair on Mice by Inhibiting Enzymes

Posted on October 26, 2015

Study of hair growth in mice with JAK inhibitors

Researchers from Columbia University Medical Center found that they can restore hair growth by inhibiting a family of enzymes. Experiments with mouse and human hair follicles found drugs inhibiting Janus kinase (JAK) enzymes promotes rapid and robust hair growth when applied to the skin.

The researchers are hoping that JAK inhibitors could be used to restore hair growth in forms of hair loss induced by male pattern baldness and other types of hair loss. Two JAK inhibitors have already been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for treatment of other diseases and conditions, including a blood disease and rheumatoid arthritis. These drugs are biw being tested in clinical trials for the treatment of plaque psoriasis and alopecia areata, an autoimmune disease that causes hair loss.

Dr. Angela M. Christiano from the Columbia University Medical Center says in a statement, "What we've found is promising, though we haven't yet shown it's a cure for pattern baldness. More work needs to be done to test if JAK inhibitors can induce hair growth in humans using formulations specially made for the scalp."

The researchers say the JAK inhibitors rapidly awaken resting follicles out of dormancy. Hair follicles do not produce hair steadily, but cycle between dormant and active phases. Mice treated for five days with one of two JAK inhibitors sprouted new hair within 10 day. No hair grew on control mice within the same amount of time. The image above shows that within 3 weeks, mice that received topical ruxolitinib or tofacitinib had regrown nearly all their hair. The bald-backed control mouse is pictured on the left.

Dr. Christiano says, "There aren't many compounds that can push hair follicles into their growth cycle so quickly. Some topical agents induce tufts of hair here and there after a few weeks, but very few compounds have this potent an effect so quickly."

A research paper on the study can be found here in the journal, Science Advances.

Photo: Columbia University Medical Center