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Hairless man grows full head of hair in Yale arthritis drug trial

BOSTON (CBS) -- Scientists at Yale may have discovered quite the off-label use for an FDA-approved arthritis drug.

During a trial, which stretched for eight months, a 25-year-old man with almost no hair on his body grew a full head following treatment with the drug. He reported no noticeable side effects.

The patient was suffering from a rare, highly visible disease known as alopecia universalis, which has no cure or approved long term treatment.

The disease causes the loss of almost all body hair.

According to scientists involved in the trial, the patient also grew eyebrows, eyelashes, and facial, armpit, and other hair.

"The results are exactly what we hoped for," said Brett A. King, M.D., assistant professor of dermatology at Yale University School of Medicine and senior author of a paper reporting the results online June 18 in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology. "This is a huge step forward in the treatment of patients with this condition. While it's one case, we anticipated the successful treatment of this man based on our current understanding of the disease and the drug. We believe the same results will be duplicated in other patients, and we plan to try."

The drug, called tofacitinib citrate has also been used successfully for treating psoriasis.

King has submitted a proposal for a clinical trial involving the drug.

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