A CURE for baldness may be closer after an eczema drug restored hair growth in a teenager with alopecia.
The 13-year-old girl had not had hair since she was two and had suffered from treatment-resistant eczema from the age of seven months.
Last year, the American teenager was given weekly injections of dupilumab, a drug marketed under the brand name Dupixent.
Within six weeks her eczema improved significantly and she noticed light, fine hairs appearing on her scalp.
After seven months, she had grown a ‘significant’ amount of pigmented hair.
Her treatment was suspended for two months, due to a change in her health insurance, and her hair started to shed.
But when dupilumab resumed in April, the hair started to grow back.
Dr Maryanne Makredes Senna, of Massachusetts General Hospital, said: ‘We were surprised. This patient hadn’t grown scalp hair since the age of two, and other treatments that can help with hair loss did not work.
‘As far as we know, this is the first report of hair regrowth with dupilumab in a patient with alopecia areata.’
Dr Senna said dupilumab’s mechanism of targeting an immune pathway deficiency in eczema could explain its action against alopecia, since studies have suggested other elements of the pathway may induce autoimmune hair loss. She now hopes to conduct clinical trials.
‘It’s hard to know whether dupilumab could induce hair growth in other alopecia patients, but I suspect it may be helpful,’ she told medical journal JAMA Dermatology.