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National Institute for Health Research Biomedical Research Centre
Our Research: Dermatology

Inflammatory hair diseases

Inflammatory hair loss currently has no effective treatment and can have a severe effect on quality of life and emotional health. How can we address this?

Alopecia areata and lichen planopilaris are the two of the most common forms of inflammatory hair disease and carry significant psychological and health care burdens.

We have shown that immune privilege collapse of the hair follicle bulb plays a key role in the development of alopecia areata, whilst hair follicle bulge immune privilege collapse and the transformation of hair follicle stem cells into fibroblasts are central to lichen planopilaris.

Immune privilege collapse is a process where the body fails to protect its own cells from immunodestruction and subsequently destroys its own tissue. We have also identified candidate therapeutics that impact on these processes.

Through our research we are:

  • Testing how experimentally induced immune privilege collapse / stem cell destruction in human scalp hair follicles can most effectively be prevented and/or restored, and identifying lowest doses and shortest treatments needed for effective therapy
  • Using organ-cultured scalp skin biopsies to validate the effectiveness of treatments ex vivo in a real life setting
  • Running a pilot clinical trial of the most effective drugs with a small group of patients with severe alopecia areata or lichen planopilaris