Lilly announces next steps following successful research designed to treat alopecia

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – Alopecia areata is a rare autoimmune disease affecting approximately 2.5 million people across the United States. 

The disease causes round patches of hair loss on the scalp. In severe cases, eyelashes, eyebrows and hair on the entire body may fall out. 

But the impact of alopecia goes beyond hair loss. According to Dr. Anabela Cardoso, AA researcher at Lilly, there are psychological, emotional and social implications for people that suffer from it. 

“When speaking with patients they highlight they are most concerned with their image, consequences of self isolation among other psychological effects including anxiety and depression,” she told News 8. 

Currently, there are no FDA-approved treatments for AA, but Cardoso and her team have been focusing on a medication that has shown to significantly stimulate hair regrowth. 

“We started research some years ago with a medication called baricitinib and conducted a Phase 2 clinical trial…and I’m very pleased to announce that just one week ago we saw the first results of the first Phase 3 trial. Results showed it provides significant hair regrowth to people with severe AA.”

Cardoso hopes these results will be replicated as she and her team continue their Phase 3 clinical trial. If so, they plan to submit for U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval and bring the medication to market. 

“If the next phase of the trial confers the previous results then we plan to go to the FDA–if all goes well–by the beginning of next year.”

News 8’s medical reporter, Dr. Mary Elizabeth Gillis, D.Ed., is a classically trained medical physiologist and biobehavioral research scientist. She has been a health, medical and science reporter for over 6 years. Her work has been featured in national media outlets. You can follow her on Facebook @DrMaryGillis and Instagram @reportergillis.