Researchers Discover New Strategy to Protect Hair Follicles from Chemotherapy

Sunday, September 15, 2019 - 15:27

Researchers from the University of Manchester have discovered a new strategy to protect to protect hair follicles from chemotherapy.

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

To do this, scientists have exploited the properties of a newer class of drugs called CDK4/6 inhibitors, which blocks cell division and are already medically approved as so-called "targeted" cancer therapies.

Dr. Talveen Purba, lead author on the study explains: "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"

Dr. Purba emphasizes: "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."

He added: "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."

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