Alopecia Areata | Pilot Study to Evaluate the Efficacy of Ruxolitinib in Alopecia Areata

Alopecia Areata research study

What is the primary objective of this study?

Alopecia areata (AA) is a common disease of the immune system, known as an \"autoimmune\" disease. In the disease, the immune system mistakenly destroys the hair follicle, causing hair to fall out. Despite many people having this disease, research into its cause and into new, better ways to treat AA has lagged far behind other similar diseases of the immune system. Currently, there are no Federal Drug Administration approved drugs for AA. Ruxolitinib (made by Incyte) is an intervention known to effectively treat a disease of the bone marrow, known as myelofibrosis. It is also being studied in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, another \"autoimmune\" disease, by fighting inflammation. There are some genetic and chemical similarities between those with myelofibrosis, active rheumatoid arthritis and AA, suggesting that treatment with ruxolitinib may be effective in AA. In mice specially designed for testing drugs for the treatment of human alopecia areata, this medication worked to prevent the disease AA from starting in mice that would have otherwise developed the disease. To test Ruxolitinib, we are going to treat 12 patients with moderate to severe AA for a minimum of 3 months up to 6 months. This is an \"open-label\" study, meaning that there will not be a placebo group; all patients enrolled in the study will receive the active medication. The effectiveness of the medication will be measured by changes in hair re-growth as determined by physical exam and photography, as well as by patient and physician scoring. Patients will be followed for another 3 months off of the drug to see if the effects of treatment last and if there is delayed response. The safety of the medication, ruxolitinib, in patients with alopecia areata will also be evaluated. Blood work will be collected before medication is started, during the treatment period, and after ruxolitinib is stopped, in order to monitor for adverse effects of the medication. Small scalp biopsies and peripheral blood will be taken at the beginning of the study before treatment and also after 12 and possibly 24 weeks. Optional biopsies may also be taken at additional time points based on clinical considerations. The chemical analysis of these skin samples and blood will help us to understand how the disease happens, how the treatment works, and may even guide us to better treatments in the future.

Who is eligible to participate?

Inclusion Criteria: - Patients between 18 to 75 years of age. - Patients with a diagnosis of patch type alopecia areata. - Patients will have >30% and <95% total scalp hair loss at baseline as measured using the SALT score. Two patients with current episodes of alopecia totalis/universalis may be included in this study. - Duration of hair loss greater than 3 months. - No evidence of regrowth present at baseline. - Patients may be naïve to treatment or unresponsive to intralesional (IL) steroids or other treatments for alopecia areata. Exclusion Criteria: - Patients with a history of or active skin disease on the scalp such as psoriasis or seborrheic dermatitis. - Patients in whom the diagnosis of alopecia areata is in question. - Patients with active medical conditions or malignancies (except adequately treated basal or squamous cell carcinoma) that in the opinion of the investigator would increase the risks associated with study participation, including patients with a history of recurrent infections. - Women of childbearing potential who are unable or unwilling to use two forms of birth control for the study duration. - Women who are pregnant or nursing. - Patients known to be HIV or hepatitis B or C positive. - Patients with history or evidence of hematopoietic abnormality. - Patients with <200K platelet count at baseline. - Patients with history or evidence of renal or hepatic impairment. - Patients with history of immunosuppression or history of recurrent serious infections. - Patients unwilling or unable to discontinue treatments known to affect hair regrowth in AA. - Patients taking any medication considered a strong CYP3A4 inhibitor who is unable or unwilling to stop this medication for the duration of the study. - Patients receiving treatment deemed to affect alopecia areata within 2 weeks to one month of baseline visit depending on the specific treatment.

Which medical condition, disease, disorder, syndrome, illness, or injury is researched?

Alopecia Areata

Study Interventions

Interventions can include giving participants drugs, medical devices, procedures, vaccines, and other products that are either investigational or already available or noninvasive approaches such as surveys, education, and interviews.

Drug:RuxolitinibA fixed dose of ruxolitinib (20mg) will be self-administered orally twice daily for 12 to 24 weeks. Dosing may be decreased or held if needed due to adverse effects.

Study Arms

Research studies and clinical trials typically have two or more research arms. An arm is a group of people who receive the same treatment in the study.

RuxolitinibA fixed dose of ruxolitinib (20mg) will be self-administered orally twice daily for 12 to 24 weeks. Dosing may be decreased or held if needed due to adverse effects.

Study Status


Start Date: August 2013

Completed Date: April 2016

Phase: Phase 2

Type: Interventional


Primary Outcome: Change in SALT Score

Secondary Outcome: Change in Percentage of Hair Loss

Study sponsors, principal investigator, and references

Principal Investigator: Julian Mackay-Wiggan, MD, MS

Lead Sponsor: Columbia University

Collaborator: Alopecia Areata Initiative - Gates Foundation

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