A microneedle patch may work to reverse hair loss associated with alopecia areata (AA), according to investigators from Brigham and Women’s Hospital and MIT. The patch is designed to deliver T cell regulators directly to sites of hair loss and halt autoimmune activity locally, avoiding systemic immunosuppression.

The patch delivers drugs across the outer layer of skin while avoiding stimulation of pain receptors. Using murine models of AA, researchers assessed the ability of the patch to deliver IL-2 and CCL22 or baricitinib through the skin. Hair regrowth was observed as early as three weeks after the initiation of treatment with IL-2/CCL22, which outperformed baricitinib in this application.

Findings appear in Advanced Materials and show lasting hair regrowth.

The microneedle patch was found to have good shelf-life stability. Further investigations are planned, and developers are exploring potential applications for other immune-mediated skin diseases, such as vitiligo and psoriasis.