Yale dermatologists may be one step closer to curing baldness.

The researchers restored normal hair growth to a patient suffering from alopecia universalis, a disease that causes nearly total hair loss over the entire body and one currently without a cure. Administering Tofacitinib, a drug usually used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, resulted in hair growth across his body in less than a year. In a Monday email, Yale dermatology professor and study senior author Brett King MED ’05 said the novel treatment holds great promise for others suffering from the condition.

The patient, a 25-year-old male, suffered from a disease in which the body’s immune system mistakenly attack hair follicles, causing him to lose some or nearly all of the hair on his body. In response, the researchers gave the patient the arthritis drug Tofacitinib, an agent that disrupts the biological pathway implicated in many autoimmune diseases. After taking the drug daily for eight months, the patient regrew all his hair with no side effects.

As a next step, King plans to continue to explore the effectiveness of Tofacitinib as a cream applied directly to the skin, and has already submitted a proposal to begin clinical trials.

The findings appeared last Wednesday in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology.

The headline for this post has been changed to specify alopecia.