A scientific breakthrough discovered to prevent hair loss from chemotherapy!

Updated: Sep 13, 2019, 09:24 IST | mid-day online correspondent |

A study showed how the damage in the hair follicle caused by taxanes in the cancer drugs which can cause permanent hair loss, can be prevented

This picture has been used for representational purposes
This picture has been used for representational purposes

Undergoing chemotherapy can result in most distressing side effects of modern cancer therapy. Losing hair is most dreadful of them. But now scientists working towards finding a solution have discovered a new strategy to protect hair follicles from the treatment.

According to an ANI report, a study from the laboratory of Professor Ralf Paus of the Centre for Dermatology Research pointed how the damage in the hair follicle caused by taxanes in the cancer drugs which can cause permanent hair loss, can be prevented.

For this research, scientists have reportedly exploited the properties of a newer class of drugs called CDK4/6 inhibitors that blocks cell division and are said to be already medically approved as "targeted" cancer therapies.

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Dr Talveen Purba, the lead author on the study, explained, "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. "

A study published in the journal ' EMBO Molecular Medicine, called taxanes ‘a very important anti-cancer drugs commonly used to treat patients with breast or lung carcinoma and particularly cause anxieties among breast cancer patients for the very distressing’ and sometimes taxanes can induce long-lasting hair loss.

Dr Purba emphasised, "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 specialised 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 cancer does not profit from it."

The team conducting the research reportedly hopes that their work will support the development of externally applicable medicines that will slow or briefly suspend cell division in the scalp hair follicles of patients undergoing chemotherapy to mitigate against chemotherapy-induced hair damage.

Such a research could enhance the efficacy of existing preventive approaches i.e. scalp cooling devices. The team of researchers have observed this under-funded field of cancer medicine desperately needs moe work, where patients have waited for a long time to see real breakthroughs in prevention of pharmacological hair loss.

"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," Dr Purba said.

"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," he added.

With inputs from ANI

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