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JAK inhibitors might be an effective therapy for multiple dermatologic conditions

Janus kinase (JAK) inhibitors might be efficacious for the treatment of people with atopic dermatitis, alopecia areata, psoriasis, and vitiligo, according to a report published online in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology (Jan. 28, 2017).

JAK inhibitors are a relatively new class of drugs approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as a therapy for the treatment of patients with rheumatoid arthritis and bone marrow disorders.

Although JAK inhibitors are not approved for dermatologic use, recent studies suggest that these medications can disrupt the immune response that fuels alopecia areata, atopic dermatitis, and vitiligo, according to Dr. Brent King, who was quoted in a press release courtesy of the American Academy of Dermatology.

Dr. Brent is an assistant professor of dermatology at the Yale School of Medicine in New Haven, Conn. He has been at the forefront of research aimed at investigating new therapeutic uses for JAK inhibitors.

Research suggest JAK inhibitors could benefit pts with skin and hair conditions

After researchers at Columbia University in New York used these medications to successfully treat alopecia areata in mice, Dr. King used a JAK inhibitor off-label in a human patient with the condition. After observing hair regrowth in this patient and others, Dr. King then turned to patients with atopic dermatitis and vitiligo, who experienced significant improvement in their symptoms after taking JAK inhibitors.

“While alopecia areata, atopic dermatitis, and vitiligo may not seem alike on the surface, they are all fueled by the body’s immune system,” Dr. King says, “and JAK inhibitors seem to address immune system dysfunction in all three diseases. I believe that this class of medicines is going to redefine how dermatologists approach these diseases and provide a revolutionary new therapy for patients.”

Dr. King hopes that JAK inhibitors will be approved as a dermatologic therapeutic option. The next step to move forward with approval, he says, would be for pharmaceutical companies to conduct large-scale clinical trials, some of which are already in progress for atopic dermatitis and alopecia areata.

“If JAK inhibitors are approved for dermatologic use, these medications would provide dermatologists with a powerful tool for treating multiple common diseases that have a profound negative impact on patients,” said Dr. King. “We need new and innovative treatments to help our patients, and for those with alopecia areata, atopic dermatitis and vitiligo, JAK inhibitors could be a life-changing therapy.”

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