American Academy of Dermatology Meeting
American Academy of Dermatology Meeting
March 04, 2017
1 min read

JAK inhibitors show promise for atopic dermatitis, alopecia areata, vitiligo

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ORLANDO, Fla. — Janus kinase inhibitors may be a promising treatment for atopic dermatitis, alopecia areata, and vitiligo, according to research being presented at the American Academy of Dermatology Annual Meeting.

Brett A. King, MD, PhD, assistant professor of dermatology, Yale School of Medicine, is conducting a focus session at the meeting, where he will discuss his use of Janus kinase (JAK) inhibitors, including Xeljanz  (tofacitinib citrate, Pfizer) to treat alopecia areata, vitiligo and atopic dermatitis.

Brett A. King, MD, PhD
Brett A. King

“While alopecia areata, atopic dermatitis and vitiligo may not seem alike on the surface, they are all fueled by the body’s immune system, and JAK inhibitors seem to address immune system dysfunction in all three diseases,” King stated in a press release from AAD. “I believe that this class of medicines is going to redefine how dermatologists approach these diseases and provide a revolutionary new therapy for patients.”

King used a JAK inhibitor off-label in a person with alopecia areata, after researchers at Columbia University, New York, successfully treated mice with alopecia areata. After the successful treatment of the patient with alopecia areata, King treated patients with atopic dermatitis and vitiligo with the JAK inhibitors, and the patients experienced significant improvements in symptoms.

JAK inhibitors are approved by the FDA for treating rheumatoid arthritis and bone marrow disorders, but are not approved for treating atopic dermatitis, alopecia areata or vitiligo.

The next step is for pharmaceutical companies to conduct large scale trials of JAK inhibitors to treat the diseases.

“If JAK inhibitors are approved for dermatologic use, these medications would provide dermatologist with a powerful tool for treating multiple common disease that have a profound impact on patients,” King stated in the release.


King B. U086. Treating alopecia areata, vitiligo and atopic dermatitis: JAK inhibitors, something new for dermatology. Presented at: American Academy of Dermatology Annual Meeting; March 3-7, Orlando, Fla.

Disclosure: King reports receiving financial support from Aclaris Therapeutics, Concert Pharmaceuticals, Eli Lilly and Company, Pfizer and Regeneron.