What Research Is Being Conducted on Alopecia Areata?
Alopecia Areata is defined as a autoimmune disease that results in the loss of hair. Many of our customers battle Alopecia Areata of various degrees. It affects nearly 2% of the population. Although Alopecia areata is not considered a life threatening disease, it does cause emotional damage for some.
Those who suffer from Alopecia Areata may have it their entire life. Some may experience their hair to grow back but then to fall out again. Others may experience more serious conditions such as alopecia universalis, the loss of eyebrows, eyelashes, etc., which could lead to a person becoming vulnerable to environmental hazards (dust, etc.)
So although Alopecia Areata is not a life threatening disease, researchers are looking into ways to better understand the disease in hopes to increase the likely chance to find better treatments, a cure, or to even prevent it from occurring.
According to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and skin diseases, here are some promising areas of research:
Developing animal models. This is a critical step toward understanding any disease, and much progress has been made. By studying mice with problems similar to those encountered in human alopecia areata, researchers hope to learn more about the mechanism of the disease and eventually develop treatments for the disease in people.
Studying hair follicle development. By studying how hair follicles form, develop, and cycle through growth and resting phases, researchers hope to gain a better understanding of hair growth cycle biology that may lead to treatments for the underlying disease process.
Understanding stem cell biology. Epithelial stem cells are immature cells that are responsible for regenerating and maintaining a variety of tissues, including the skin and the hair follicles. Stem cells in the follicle appear to be spared from injury in alopecia areata, which may explain why the potential for regrowth is always there in people with the disease. By studying the biology of these cells, scientists hope to gain a better understanding of factors that trigger the disease.
Finding genes. Scientists have identified genetic variations associated with the development of alopecia areata. They also discovered that alopecia areata has genetic similarities to other autoimmune diseases, namely type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and celiac disease. An understanding of the genetics of the disorder will aid in disease prevention, early intervention, and development of specific therapies. To assist researchers searching for such genetic clues, the NIAMS supported the development of the National Alopecia Areata Registry, a network of five centers, to identify and register patients with the disease and collect information and blood samples (which contain genes). Data, including genetic information, is made available to researchers studying the genetic basis and other aspects of the disease and disease risk. For more information, log onto the registry website at www.AlopeciaAreataRegistry.org.
Even though a cure has not been discovered, research is getting us one step closer every day. And until there is a way to reverse or prevent alopecia areata from occurring, we are here to help those who do use wigs as a method of coping with the physical change. If you have alopecia areata and are looking for a new wig or to try one for the first time, get in touch with us today. We’ll help you find your hair again.