Research

Alopecia Areata Treatment Development Program

To create a world where no one suffers from alopecia areata.

The mission of NAAF's Treatment Development Program (TDP) is to find a safe and effective treatment or cure for alopecia areata to benefit the 145 million people worldwide who have, had or will develop alopecia areata in their lifetime.

Since 1985, based on targeted research aims set forth during our biennial research summits, NAAF has awarded 178 research grants totaling $4.4 million. Of that, 38 grants totaling $1.65 million have been directed to the line of inquiry that has led to the current clinical trials with JAK inhibitors that are showing such promise for re-growing hair in people with alopecia areata.

Bringing drugs from discovery to market approval takes an average of 15 years and costs over $1 billion. However, NAAF’s strategic investment of $1.65 million to support the development of a mouse model, the creation of a registry, and immunogenetic research which has led to the investigative trajectory that we now find so promising, have shortened that timeline considerably.

If the investigative trajectory that we now find so promising proves safe and durable, we could reasonably expect to see a treatment on the market for alopecia areata as early as 2020.

Did You Know?

NAAF Invests Strategically in Research to Find a Treatment or a Cure for Alopecia Areata

In 1988, NAAF began funding Dr. Madeleine Duvic's immunogenetic research (the first of 10 grants).

In 1992, NAAF began funding the development an alopecia areata mouse model (the first of 14 grants).

In 1997, NAAF began funding Dr. Angela Christiano’s genetic work (the first of 12 grants).

Your participation in the Treatment Development Program is an investment in aggressive, results-driven research.

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Strategically Driving Research 

NAAF's early support of Dr. Angela Christiano’s genetic studies, followed by the formation of the Alopecia Areata Registry, Biobank and Clinical Trials Network (Registry) in partnership with the National Institutes of Health* in 2001, proved instrumental in bringing about the groundbreaking 2010 Genome-Wide Association Study (GWAS) published in Nature.

Further genetic research has helped unravel underlying immunologic mechanisms that contribute to alopecia areata and identify important immune pathways that could be targeted with drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of other diseases. In 2014, NAAF advisors and grantees, Drs. Angela Christiano, Raphael Clynes and Julian Mackay-Wiggan, found that an FDA-approved drug for the treatment of myelofibrosis (a bone marrow cancer) produced near to complete hair regrowth in several patients with alopecia areata. Their exciting preliminary findings published in Nature Medicine represented a pivotal moment for alopecia areata research and treatment development.

This triumph is the result of a long history of Genome Wide Association Studies conducted by Dr. Christiano and supported by NAAF. Drs. Christiano, Clynes, Mackay-Wiggan and other members of the Columbia University team are active participants in NAAF research summits aimed to advance alopecia areata research and the development of safe, effective, affordable treatments. Without quick and easy access to well-characterized samples through the Registry – and the strategic framework of the TDP and associated research summits – these breakthroughs would never have been realized in only a few short years. 

Treatment Development Program Action Plan

TDP drives research by (1) hosting research summits bringing together experts in the fields of hair and skin disease research, clinical care, basic science, immunology, autoimmunity and industry to distill the science and chart a path for the most critical, high-leverage research investments; (2) building the infrastructure through the Alopecia Areata Registry, Biobank and Clinical Trials Network; (3) paving the way for FDA approval by developing a Uniform Clinical Trials Protocol, coordinating prevalence and incidence studies, and advocating on Capitol Hill; and (4) providing critical seed and bridge funding to nurture high-caliber, independent researchers with an enduring focus on research relevant to alopecia areata.

TDP is advancing the science through funding meritorious research, including (1) basic research on how alopecia areata triggers the body’s immune response, (2) translational and clinical studies to test the effectiveness of potential treatments and and (3) research to quantify and qualify biological, psychosocial and economic impacts ensuring swift regulatory approval and insurance reimbursement for potential treatments.

Over the next three years, NAAF expects to advance our basic immunology knowledge by exploring all avenues directed by worldwide immunology experts. We expect to grow the Registry with data and samples from 6,000 new participants. We also expect to have at least one treatment move from indication to approval and have more in line.

How You Can Help

Help us accelerate the Treatment Development Program by making a valuable investment. Our goal is to triple NAAF’s investment in the Treatment Development Program in order to develop effective treatments sooner. You are the key to the Foundation’s success in reaching this goal. Together, we will accelerate the search for safe and effective treatments.

For information about how you can support the Treatment Development Program, contact Chief Development Strategist, Maureen Smith at 415-472-3780.