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An autoimmune disease called alopecia areata occurs when the body destroys its hair follicles. Although it can affect any body part, it usually results in observable hair thinning on the scalp, eyelashes, and eyebrows.
Unexpected hair loss can result from alopecia areata, which can also affect the nails by making them red and brittle. About half of those with the illness will regrow hair without therapy after a year, which is when it often manifests in children or teenagers.
Because the degree of alopecia areata varies from person to person, there are also various treatment choices, meaning that what may be effective for one individual may not be effective for another. Baricitinib, a medication recently licensed for hair loss treatment, is one of the remedies. Baricitinib, a Janus kinase (JAK) inhibitor, is a prescription drug used to treat individuals with serious alopecia areata.
Researchers claim that even though baricitinib has received FDA approval, trials for the medication are still in progress and could extend up to 200 weeks to learn more about its safety and effectiveness. However, the FDA’s approval of baricitinib and the potential of other medications for alopecia areata in development are encouraging to society as a whole.
How Baricitinib Functions
A Janus kinase (JAK) inhibitor, such as baricitinib, prevents the action of one or more members of the Janus kinase family of enzymes. JAK inhibitors reduce the production of inflammatory chemicals in alopecia areata patients, causing the inflammation to decrease and the follicles to continue healthy growth.
Baricitinib’s safety and effectiveness in two phase 3 research trials, reported in May in the New England Journal of Medicine, were the basis for the FDA’s clearance. The Severity of Alopecia Tool defines severe alopecia areata as a minimum of 50% scalp hair loss, and the researchers examined 1,200 adult patients who had this condition throughout both studies. That refers to persons who experienced alopecia Universalis, or the loss of all scalp hair, over a period longer than six months.
Each patient was randomly given one of three treatment options—a once-daily medication containing 2 milligrams, 4 milligrams, or a placebo. Experts determined the success by the number of patients with a minimum of 80% hair increase following 36 weeks of therapy.
Following their 36 weeks of therapy, almost 39% of individuals in the first experiment (BRAVE-AA1) who got the 4-milligram dosage of baricitinib saw total or nearly complete hair growth. In the second experiment (BRAVE-AA2), 36% of individuals on the same dose experienced the same outcomes. Even patients who received the 2-milligram dose experienced significantly more hair growth than those who received a placebo.
This is a huge step in the right direction toward getting a treatment approved that will lessen the agony and distress experienced by alopecia areata patients.
The Minor Side Effects of Baricitinib
Baricitinib, like most medications, can have minor adverse effects. However, in research on the substance, only a small number were reported by users. Some instances of baricitinib’s mild adverse effects include:
- Upper respiratory infection
- Outbreaks of herpes if you have the pathogens in your system
These adverse effects should often be transient. And some might be simple to control. However, see your medical professional if you have persistent or bothersome symptoms. Additionally, until your doctor advises you to quit using baricitinib, don’t.
Other than the negative effects mentioned above, baricitinib may also have minor side effects. You can find details in the baricitinib prescription information.
The Baricitinib Severe Adverse Effects
Serious side effects from baricitinib therapy are rare, but they are possible. Baricitinib has been associated with serious adverse effects, such as:
- Digestive system perforation
- Elevated cholesterol
- Higher than normal levels of liver enzymes, which may indicate liver injury
- Decreased concentration of specific white blood cells
- Fewer than usual red blood cells
- Higher chance of dying
- Blood clots
- A Severe infection like shingles
- Significant cardiovascular issues
- Allergic response
Baricitinib may cause an allergic reaction in some persons. While scientists didn’t record allergic reactions during baricitinib’s clinical trials, they have been since the medication’s approval. A minor allergic reaction may cause the following symptoms:
- Body rash
- Flushing (temporary redness, warmth, or darkening of skin color)
Although uncommon, a more serious allergic reaction is possible. One of the signs of an acute allergic response is skin swelling, usually in the hands, feet, lips, eyelids, and lips. They can also involve swelling throat, mouth, or tongue, making breathing difficult. If you experience an adverse response to baricitinib, contact your physician immediately. However, use your local emergency line if you believe you are experiencing a medical crisis.
Before using baricitinib, discuss your medical history with your doctor. If you suffer from certain illnesses or other circumstances that impact your health, baricitinib might not be the best choice for you. You should take the following list of variables into account.
- Increased infection risk: Baricitinib may increase your risk of infection if you have additional risk factors.
- Active infection: If you have an active infection, you shouldn’t start taking baricitinib. Baricitinib decreases your immune system’s activity, making it more difficult to treat the infection.
- Liver issues: Your liver enzyme levels may increase if you take baricitinib. This can indicate liver damage. You could have an increased risk of experiencing this adverse effect if you have liver issues.
- Kidney issues: Baricitinib is eliminated from your body by way of your kidneys. Baricitinib may accumulate in your body when your kidneys aren’t functioning properly.
How Baricitinib Aids in Hair Regrowth
When a person develops alopecia areata, baricitinib helps prevent immune cells from communicating in a way that damages hair follicles. The immune cells will not attack hair follicles when the signaling is cut off, and the follicles carry out their intended function of growing hair.
The results of the phase 3 research trial could result in the FDA approving baricitinib for the treatment of alopecia areata. Its approval may significantly impact the patients. Baricitinib gives those suffering from alopecia areata fresh hope because the condition can be devastating. Despite these encouraging outcomes from available treatments, people should always consult a physician or other healthcare professional if they believe they may be experiencing alopecia.