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How does the mechanism of action of baricitinib differ from topical JAK inhibitors?

Featuring Michael Cameron, MD |

Assistant Professor
Mount Sinai Ichan School of Medicine
New York, NY

| Published August 01, 2023

Summary 

In this video, Dr. Michael Cameron explains the difference between the mechanism of action (MOA) of baricitinib and topical JAK (Janus kinase) inhibitors. He mentions that the MOA of both baricitinib and topical JAK inhibitors is essentially the same. However, the critical difference lies in their delivery methods. 

According to Dr. Cameron, he has personally tried using topical JAK inhibitors off-label for mild alopecia areata, but without success. The challenge with topical JAK inhibitors is developing a formulation that can consistently and effectively deliver the JAK inhibitor to the hair follicles where the disease occurs. 

On the other hand, the advantage of Olumiant (baricitinib) is that it is administered orally, allowing the JAK inhibitor to be delivered systemically. This enables it to reach the hair follicles where the disease is happening, potentially making it a more effective treatment for conditions like alopecia areata. 

In summary, the key difference between baricitinib and topical JAK inhibitors lies in their delivery methods, with baricitinib being an oral treatment that can reach the affected hair follicles more effectively. 

Key Points 
  • The mechanism of action (MOA) of baricitinib and topical JAK inhibitors is the same, but the critical difference lies in the delivery method. 
  • Baricitinib is advantageous because it is delivered orally, allowing the JAK inhibitor to reach the hair follicles where the disease is occurring. 
  • Developing a topical formulation that effectively delivers the JAK inhibitor to the hair follicle has been challenging, thus an advantage of baricitinib is that it is administered orally.
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