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FDA-approved Drug Produces Near Complete Hair Regrowth

julian angela raphael for websiteThe National Alopecia Areata Foundation congratulates its advisors, Drs. Raphael Clynes (center), Angela Christiano (right) and Julian Mackay-Wiggan (left), and their team at Columbia University Medical Center for their exciting preliminary findings with an FDA-approved drug which has produced near complete hair regrowth in several patients with moderate-to-severe alopecia areata.  We applaud the publication of these results in Nature Medicine this month.

This triumph is the result of a long history of Genome Wide Association Studies conducted by Dr. Christiano and supported by NAAF with well-characterized samples from the Registry, Biobank and Clinical Trials Network, a key component of our Alopecia Areata Treatment Development Program.  This earlier groundbreaking research, which was published in Nature in 2010, established the genetic basis for alopecia areata, revealing underlying autoimmune mechanisms that contribute to the disease.  

The genetic studies provided the clue that led to rationally selecting the Janus Kinase (JAK) pathways as a target for treatment. In a cutting-edge immunology research effort led by Dr. Clynes, the team has since performed multiple studies testing JAK inhibitors and demonstrating efficacy in animal models, and this work is now culminating in pilot studies of two FDA-approved drugs in small patient populations. The Columbia Team plans to launch additional clinical studies to further investigate these findings. Click here to learn more. 

Photo courtesy of Rene Perez 

While the results are encouraging, we wish to remind the alopecia areata community this is a preliminary study in a small population.  Larger, more robust clinical trials are necessary to fully evaluate safety, efficacy and durability. JAK inhibitors as a class of drugs are potent immunosuppressive agents, and in patients with underlying diseases, have been associated with significant side effects. These adverse effects may be less commonly seen in alopecia areata patients, who in general are otherwise healthy. 

The importance of the Alopecia Areata Registry, Biobank and Clinical Trials Network (Registry) is demonstrated by the valuable research of Dr. Christiano, who received crucial early grant support from NAAF for the genetic studies. Along with Drs. Clynes and Mackay-Wiggan, members of the Columbia team have been active participants in the NAAF Research Summits aimed at developing new treatments.  Without quick and easy access to well-characterized samples through the Registry – and the strategic framework of the Alopecia Areata Treatment Development Program and associated Research Summits – these breakthroughs would never have been realized in only a few short years.  If you would like to help with future clinical trials, please join the Registry and add to our nearly 10,000 registrants.

There are currently 6.5 million people in the US that have, had, or will have alopecia areata in their lifetime and over 145 million worldwide.  As Dr. Christiano knows firsthand from her own personal experience with the disease, alopecia areata is too often dismissed as simply an appearance-altering disease. “Nothing could be further from the truth,” she said in a recent statement at Columbia University. “Patients with alopecia areata are suffering profoundly, and these findings mark a significant step forward for them. The team is fully committed to advancing new therapies for patients with a vast unmet need.”   

For more information about how NAAF plans to support this exciting research through our Alopecia Areata Treatment Development Program, please contact Maureen Smith, Chief Development Strategist, via email or 415-472-3780.

Alopecia Areata Research Summit 2014 

summit 2014 sponsor banner

The next Alopecia Areata Research Summit, “From Targets to Treatments: Bridging Autoimmune Research to Advance Understanding of Alopecia Areata”, will be held in Bethesda, Maryland on Thursday, December 4 - Friday, December 5, 2014. 

The conference is hosted by the National Alopecia Areata Foundation (NAAF) and sponsored in part by the National Institutes of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal & Skin Diseases (NIAMS). These summits have transformed the understanding of alopecia areata from largely inflammatory and dermatological perspectives to a focus on the genetic and immunological factors that are now recognized as driving determinants of the disease process.

The ultimate goal of this research summit is to foster innovation by bringing together scientists from different disciplines around the world to present new research, share experiences, and discuss new directions for the advancement of knowledge in alopecia areata and related autoimmune disease research. The long-term objective is a safe, effective, and affordable treatment or cure for alopecia areata.

We invite participation of corporate supporters in this important event. You can visit our corporate sponsor invitation page for details on sponsorship opportunities and to download the sponsorship return form.

Please contact NAAF Chief Development Strategist, Maureen Smith at 415.472.3780 or for more information.

Alopecia Areata Treatment Development Program

TDP logoWhile our capabilities and influence have grown stronger across the board, this past year produced an unprecedented advancement in our potential to find new and more effective treatments through our Alopecia Areata Treatment Development Program (TDP), a seven-year program that continues through 2016. With the recognition that treatments available or in development for other autoimmune diseases might also prove efficacious for alopecia areata, the Alopecia Areata Treatment Development Program takes a multipronged approach to developing safe and effective treatments. NAAF’s ability to move in this exciting direction is the result of our past commitment to sound and responsible research. Read more about the Treatment Development Program here>>>

NAAF has been at the forefront of many fruitful studies that yielded answers to some of the largest questions surrounding the autoimmune disease. We are committed to continuing this search until all of the questions about alopecia areata have been answered and the mechanisms of this disease are clearly understood. 

JID 2014 coverJID Publishes NAAF Research Summit Proceedings

The prestigious Journal of Investigative Dermatology (JID) has published the proceedings of NAAF’s 2012 Alopecia Areata Research Summit, From Basepairs to Bedside: Innovations in the Immunology & Clinical Science of Alopecia Areata, which analyzed progress that had been made in alopecia areata research over the previous two years and set the course for future research.  The supplement is being distributed to all subscribers of the Journal and researchers worldwide spreading the word and sparking new interest to further the progress of alopecia areata research.  To view article abstracts or order full texts, please go to

Research Highlights

2012 - Summary of Innovations in the Immunology & Clinical Science of Alopecia Areata Summit

2010:  Acclaimed Geneticist Finds Basis of Alopecia Areata

2010  -The Alopecia Areata Clinical/Translational Research Summit

2009 - Summary of Immunology Research Summit on Alopecia Areata 

2008 - Research Summit Determines Research Priorities

Research Journal Articles

New England Journal of Medicine, April 2012

Nature International Weekly Journal of Science, July 2010

Recorded Webinars 

November 29, 2010 - Webinar: What's All the Buzz About? with Dr. Angela Christiano

November 19, 2009  -Webinar: Alopecia Areata Immunology Research Summit Recap

Research Surveys

Relationship of Alopecia Areata to Lipid Lowering Agents

Treatments Survey

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