New growth

An arthritis drug restores hair to a patient with alopecia.

Yale Dermatology

Yale Dermatology

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When a young man we’ll call Allen arrived last year at a clinic directed by School of Medicine dermatologist Brett King ’50MD, the 25-year-old had two intractable problems: severe psoriasis and a rare condition known as alopecia universalis—he had barely any hair, anywhere. But, says King, “I had an idea.”

King thought that one particular medication—tofacitinib, a drug approved for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis—might alleviate Allen’s two conditions, both of which have elements of autoimmune disease (in which the body’s immune system turns on itself). Within eight months, Allen’s psoriasis had improved and he had regrown hair in all the appropriate places, reported King and Yale pediatric dermatologist Brittany G. Craiglow in the June online Journal of Investigative Dermatology. The researchers are currently working on a clinical trial of tofacitinib.

These photos of Allen show his progress: from large psoriasis lesions at far left to a full head of hair.

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