SEP 15, 2019 06:51 PM PDT

New treatment to reduce hair loss during chemotherapy

Chemotherapy-induced hair loss is debatably one of the more devastating psychologically-visible difficulties of cancer. However, new research from the laboratory of Professor Ralf Paus of the Centre for Dermatology Research at The University of Manchester may have discovered a technique to spare hair follicles. The research was published recently in EMBO Molecular Medicine.

Many cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy with a class of drugs called taxanes lose their hair because of the damage that taxanes cause to hair follicles. As Dr. Talveen Purba, the study’s lead author, explains: "A pivotal part of our study was to first get to grips with how exactly hair follicles responded to taxane chemotherapy, and we found that the specialized dividing cells at the base of the hair follicle that are critical for producing hair itself, and the stem cells from which they arise, are most vulnerable to taxanes. Therefore, we must protect these cells most from undesired chemotherapy effects -- but so that the cancer does not profit from it."

Losing hair during chemotherapy adds yet another blow to cancer patients. But maybe not for long. Photo: Pixabay

The technique Dr. Purba and team ended up devising takes advantage of the properties of CDK4/6 inhibitors, a class of cancer drugs that stop cell division through target cancer therapies. Dr. Purba elaborates, "Although at first this seems counterintuitive, we found that CDK4/6 inhibitors can be used temporarily to halt cell division without promoting additional toxic effects in the hair follicle. When we bathed organ-cultured human scalp hair follicles in CDK4/6 inhibitors, the hair follicles were much less susceptible to the damaging effects of taxanes."

While some patients use cool caps to attempt to prevent hair loss during chemotherapy, the authors hope their research will motivate pharmacological improvements, perhaps in the form of externally applicable medicines that will slow or temporarily suspend cell division in the scalp hair follicles. Although patients agree that hair loss is a significant side effect of chemotherapy, the topic still has yet to receive much funding.

Dr. Purba said: "Despite the fact that taxanes have been used in the clinic for decades, and have long been known to cause hair loss, we're only now scratching the surface of how they damage the human hair follicle. We also don't really know why some patients show greater hair loss than others even though they get the same drug and drug-dose, and why it is that certain chemotherapy regimens and drug combinations have much worse outcomes than others. We need time to further develop approaches like this to not only prevent hair loss, but promote hair follicle regeneration in patients who have already lost their hair due to chemotherapy."

Sources: Science Daily, EMBO Molecular Medicine

About the Author
  • Kathryn is a curious world-traveller interested in the intersection between nature, culture, history, and people. She has worked for environmental education non-profits and is a Spanish/English interpreter.
You May Also Like
OCT 17, 2019
Drug Discovery & Development
OCT 17, 2019
Effective Treatment for Ulveal Melanoma
Uveal melanoma is a rare and aggressive type of melanoma that targets the eye and affects an estimated 2,500 people in the United States annually. Nearly h...
OCT 17, 2019
Cancer
OCT 17, 2019
Understanding osteosarcoma in kids and dogs
New research published in the Nature journal, Communications Biology, shows evidence for a comparative study that scientists could use to improve treatment...
OCT 17, 2019
Cell & Molecular Biology
OCT 17, 2019
Insight Into a DNA Damage Sensor That Orchestrates Repair
Simple cell functions like division or metabolism can lead to DNA damage, which can also occur because of normal exposure to the sun or noxious agents....
OCT 17, 2019
Cell & Molecular Biology
OCT 17, 2019
Revealing More About Aging on the Cellular Level
Our bodies are made up of trillions and cells, and millions of them die every day....
OCT 17, 2019
Cancer
OCT 17, 2019
Vitamin A consumption decreases risk of skin cancer
We know that vitamin A is important for our bodies’ growth and development, in particular for eye, reproductive, and skin health. Now new research sh...
OCT 17, 2019
Cell & Molecular Biology
OCT 17, 2019
How the Sun's Rays Damage the Skin
We all need sunlight, but it's very easy to get too much. Sunlight is the main source of the ultraviolet radiation we're exposed to....
Loading Comments...