Researchers have unveiled molecular pathways that may open the door to promising new treatments for patients struggling with alopecia areata, according to a new study led by the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and published online in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology on August 24.
Studying the largest cohort of alopecia areata patients to date, researchers compared patients’ scalp samples to skin samples from patients with two other immune-mediated skin diseases, psoriasis and atopic dermatitis, as well as to normal scalp tissues. Researchers found that similar to these diseases, alopecia areata shows significant increases of signaling molecules (cytokines) that regulate inflammatory responses and drive inflammation. They posit that with new classes of drugs, such as IL-17 inhibiting antibodies, bringing about dramatic improvements in psoriasis, atopic dermatitis and other autoimmune diseases, the moment may have arrived for dramatic application of similar treatment mechanisms to alopecia areata.
“This discovery will change the landscape of alopecia areata,” said Emma Guttman-Yassky, MD, PhD, associate professor of dermatology and immunology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and lead study author. “Understanding the molecular signature gives us new targets, and potentially new targeted therapies, for our so hard-to-treat alopecia areata patients.”
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