Alopecia is the medical term for hair loss. Hair loss for both men and women comes with not only the obvious physical repercussions, but also often emotional consequences as well, with sufferers wrestling with issues of identity and self-confidence as their appearance is sometimes dramatically altered.
The most common type of alopecia, which is very well known is hereditary. Called androgenetic alopecia, also known as pattern hair loss, it affects 80 million men and women in the United States.
Another form of alopecia that is very familiar is drug-induced, often by chemotherapy. Under normal circumstances, this is a temporary hair loss, but for some who have taken the drug Taxotere (docetaxel) their hair will never grow back.
Alopecia areata is a type is hair loss that occurs on the scalp, face and in some cases other areas of the body when the immune system attacks hair follicles. This hair loss occurs in round patches and is thought to be brought on by severe stress. There has been growing interest in improving treatment options for those who suffer from this immune disease. Current treatment options take months of waiting for hair to regrow and then only offer varied results with no guarantee.
Currently two drug companies are racing to get the first FDA-approved drug to treat alopecia areata to market. According to NewBeauty both Concert Pharma and Aclaris Therapeutics are in the process of testing new drugs.
Concert Pharma, already in the middle of mid-stage trials of CTP-543, had to put the trials on clinical hold last week when the FDA requested more data. Not far behind is Aclaris Therapeutics’ ATI-50001, which is scheduled to begin mid-stage trial testing later this year.
“Another treatment option, such as the drugs in these studies, would be interesting because they may provide another treatment modality for those patients who suffer from this condition,” Beverly Hills, California, hair restoration specialist Natalie Attenello, MD explains to NewBeauty. “The FDA has strict guidelines aimed at patient safety, so the hold on the Concert Pharma study is likely for good reason, especially if it is a medication aimed at altering one’s immune system. Either way, it should be exciting to see what other treatment options become available with time and technology.”
Unfortunately this is good news only for some.
“Treatments exist for types of alopecia that are that are hereditary and those related to autoimmune diseases, and new treatments are being developed all the time. Unfortunately, for people affected by Taxotere, these treatments are unlikely to work because the hair follicle is damaged or altered, with the stem cells necessary for hair growth terminated or replaced by non-functional cells,” says Beau Darley III of Beasley Allen Law Firm of Montgomery, Alabama, a firm that represents individuals who have permanently lost their hair after cancer treatment in litigation against Sanofi-Aventis, the manufacturer of Taxotere.