Alopecia, the drug that made Martina’s hair grow back –

From silvia turin

At the age of 13, the girl lost her hair, eyelashes and eyebrows, but thanks to the “JAK-inhibitors” drugs today at 17, she finally said goodbye to her wig.

Lost her hair at age 13: This happened to Martina, whose story was told by the Observatory for Rare Diseases (O.Ma.R.). The girl, now 17, finally said goodbye to her wig thanks to a promising class of drugs.

the disease

Martina suffers from alopecia, a autoimmune disease It affects 2% of the population, 147 million people in the world. It is a disease that does not cure, and the more widespread the disease, the more difficult it is to respond to existing treatments. She made headlines recently, when the actor was will Smith
He reacted badly at the Oscars to a joke about his wife, Jada Pinkett, who has been struggling with hair loss since 2018.

Medicines used

There are many treatments available, but the treatment that brought Martina back to her smile is tofacitinib, a molecule taken orally that is part of A class of drugs called Janus kinase inhibitors, or JAK . inhibitors. Some of these are already approved to treat rare tumors Such as myelofibrosis (fibrosis of the bone marrow) and chronic autoimmune diseases, such as for‘Rheumatoid Arthritis’or skin conditions, such as psoriasis and atopic dermatitis, but may be used outside of the formal therapeutic indication (This is off-label, ed) also for the treatment of alopecia areata.

Last approval in the USA

Also Monday in the United States, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved baricitinib, a drug that restores hair growth by preventing the immune system from attacking hair follicles, based on the principle of a JAK inhibitor. The approval was important for insurance coverage for these drugs, which are expensive and must be administered by the health system: in the United States, they are estimated to have a list price of approximately $2,500 per month. Baricinib was significantly shown in two studies published on New England Journal of Medicine Nearly 40 percent of those who saw it regrow their hair. After a year, the success rate was about half of the patients without serious side effects (referred to as a small increase in the risk of acne, urinary tract infections, etc., which are treatable).

A disease that must be recognized

For years in Italy, the ASAA-Associazione Sostegno Alopecia Areata asked the Ministry of Health to include alopecia areata in LEA (basic levels of assistance), because it is a rare and relapsing disease. The waivers will also avoid paying for aids such as wigs.
female alopecia In Italy it affects about four million womenEspecially after menopause, when the hormonal composition changes, hair becomes thinner and falls out more and more. For diagnosis in women, the main indicator used was hyperandrogenism (increased male hormones), in fact it was found that androgenetic alopecia can be present even with normal levels of male hormones. In any case, the reference specialist is a dermatologist. In alopecia areata there is one strong genetic predisposition Even children can suffer from it.

psychological consequences

Martina is now 17 and it’s as if her illness is all but gone: just look at her shoulder-length brown hair, again with curly curiosity, while before that it was straight. The girl’s alopecia was particularly extensive, and was classified as “global”, with eyelashes, eyebrows, and all body hair falling out. “It was a shock,” the mother told O.Ma.R: “This disease has a great psychological and relational impact: children are afraid of harassment and therefore isolate themselves, they do not want to go to school or go out with their children. Friends. My daughter started wearing a wig wig, but even then there were things she couldn’t do, like go to the pool or spend a night with her friends. At that time she was always tired, she even slept in the car, and never got up from the couch.”
However, JAK . inhibitory drugs It is not effective for everyone: It is always necessary to rely on specialists. However, scientific research in pathology today is very active: the main goal is to be able to identify a truly effective therapeutic approach in all patients.

It’s not bald

Alopecia areata should not be confused with baldness
The first is an autoimmune disease, and the second is due to the gradual thinning of hair as a result Androgen hormones. Androgenetic alopecia affects about 70% of men And 40% of women, especially after menopause: in men it is manifested with hair loss on the top of the head (which often remains completely bald), in women there is a general thinning. It is irreversible baldness.

Jun 14, 2022 (change on Jun 14, 2022 | 16:07)

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