chemoChemotherapy is widely known for its hair loss side effect. It’s understandably devastating for cancer suffers to find they not only have to battle a life-threatening disease, but they have to lose all of their hair too.

Now, a new chemotherapy technique has been invented which may stop hair loss occurring. So what is this new chemotherapy and could it really put an end to the common, yet devastating hair loss that’s associated with it?

A more targeted treatment could be key

The new chemotherapy technique involves the drug being sent directly to the tumour. It’s a more targeted approach that relies upon an engineered protein to direct the drug to the tumour, described as a “guided missile” technique.

Developed by associate professor of bioengineering at Northern Carolina’s Stanford University, Jennifer Cochran, the new technique will cause the chemotherapy to skip right past healthy cells. This will eliminate several nasty side effects associated with the treatment, including hair loss.

A more potent, effective treatment

Of course, another benefit of this technique is that it delivers a more potent drug to fight the cancer. When chemotherapy passes through the entire body, it can lose some of its effectiveness by the time it reaches the tumour.

As this method involves bypassing healthy cells, it is stronger once it reaches the tumour, enabling it to be much more effective.

It’s unlikely the treatment will be available anytime soon in the UK. Some challenges were presented when researchers tried to target larger tumours. The protein had difficulty passing through to larger tumours so the technique is still being perfected. However, treatment on mice has so far proven very promising.

One thing’s for sure, if this technique does become mainstream, it would change the lives of so many chemotherapy patients. Hair loss is a very hard thing to deal with in any circumstances, but when it’s caused by cancer it can feel like a double blow.

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By Ian Watson

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