September 18, 2019
Chemotherapy offers cancer patients hope of recovery, but in many cases it comes with the anxiety of hair loss as a visible marker of illness.
New research out of the United Kingdom shows a possible path to preventing hair loss in cancer patients who decide to undergo chemotherapy.
Experiments at the Centre for Dermatology Research at the University of Manchester demonstrated a way to inhibit the toxic effect of taxanes — drugs that block cell division — on hair follicles.
These CDK4/6 inhibitors could be the key to helping chemo patients avoid the added psychological and social stress of alopecia, according to Medical News Today.
"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," said Talveen S. Purba, who led the study published in EMBO Molecular Medicine.
Researchers hope that using these inhibitors can improve the effectiveness of other hair preserving treatments such as scalp cooling.
The study focused on two particular taxanes, paclitaxel and docetaxel, that are often used to treat solid tumors found in breast and lung cancer patients. Sample hair follicles were taken from consenting patients and exposed to the CDK4/6 inhibitors.
Scientists believe the results of the study are a proof of principle and should spur further research into the prevention of hair loss from chemotherapy, both through this method and others yet to be developed.