JAMA Dermatology has published a study on the side effects and unexpected benefits of a new eczema medication. It is called Dupilumab and was given to a 13-year-old female patient with severe atopic dermatitis who was unresponsive to conventional treatments. To the surprise of the doctors, after a few weeks, hair appeared on the girl's head, which had not been there since infancy.
Dupilamab is a monoclonal antibody developed to combat eczema that the US FDA approved for clinical use in early 2017. After six weeks of using the drug, the girl told the doctors that hair had appeared on her head. By the end of the course of treatment, after seven months, she had grown a significant amount of healthy pigmented hair. This despite the fact that due to eczema, she has not had hair since the age of 2.
The researchers were extremely surprised by this unplanned effect and looked for a catch, but they were helped by chance. Due to bureaucratic delays with insurance, the course of taking dupilamab had to be interrupted for two months and soon the regrown hair fell out. But as soon as they resume taking the drug, they began to grow back again. Scientists believe that the reason is the effect of this drug on the immune system, which affects both the spread of eczema and the manifestation of the autoimmune disease of alopecia (baldness).
Whether dupilamab can be used directly for the treatment of baldness with patients without eczema is an open question. But a recent similar case of increased hair growth with a modified antidepressant suggests that the root of the baldness problem must be sought in the immune system. Researchers have to figure out this issue.