New treatment shows promise for hair-loss condition

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NEW YORK (CBS) A new treatment is showing promising results for patients with an autoimmune disease that causes hair loss, and helping them regain their confidence.

You would never know it by looking at her, but Allison Mari has been struggling with devastating hair loss her entire life.

"In 2016 and 2017 I lost 70 percent of the hair on my head, so that was the first time I had to wear a human hair wig," Mari said.

She was diagnosed with alopecia as a child. The condition causes the immune system to attack hair follicles. Her alopecia didn't respond to medications, so she enrolled in a new clinical trial at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York.

That's where Dr. Emma Guttman has been studying similarities between alopecia and eczema, a chronic inflammatory skin condition with severe itching and redness.

"Then I started to think some of the treatments for eczema and some of the pathways that are involved in eczema may also be involved in alopecia," Dr. Guttman said.

Mari was among 54 patients to take part in a study testing whether an FDA approved drug to treat eczema called Dupilumab could help moderate to severe alopecia patients.

"Many of them did not have hair growth for seven years or eight years, 10 years, and miraculously they grow hair in the study... it's amazing," Guttman said.

Reporter Hilary Lane: You see your hair growing back. What goes through your mind?
Allison Mari: I guess, the prospect of a normal life.

She says she has regrown hair in some places where she was bald for more than 20 years. "I think a lot of us have given up, so I want people to realize there is hope out there and I think they are close to finding something that works," Mari said.

The final results of the trial will be analyzed next year.