The Tartan, newspaper of the student body at Carnegie Mells, has reported on some of the various strands of research aimed at finding new ways to treat chemo that would remove the threat of hair loss altogether. We take a closer look.
Chemotherapy and Hair Loss
The way chemotherapy works is by targetting cells which divide quickly, unfortunately this means there is an element of throwing the baby out with the bathwater - It means that normal cells also get destroyed, including hair cells. Although for many the hair will return once treatment stops, losing it can be a devastating step on a terrible journey. The hunt for new treatments, vital to overcome this aggressive and adaptive disease, has necessitated the use of new delivery methods - identifying ways of delivering cancer killing treatments that attack only the cancerous cells could mean an end to hair loss in therapy, along with the debilitating nausea and immunodeficiency that are also regularly associated.
Ohio's Cutting Edge Contribution
The first obstacle that needs to be overcome, in the search for a way to target delivery of a drug, is what the capsule should look like. Carnegie Mells produced some theoretical research around the idea of wrapping the drug in something similar to the membrane of a cell.
A team led by John Byrd of The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, in collaboration with Laboratory for Nanoengineering and Biodesign led by Carlos Castro, produced some really exciting work using DNA in origami structures to camouflage the drug... their work focussed on a type of leukemia that had grown resistant by recognising the drug and pumping it out of the cell before it could do its work. John Byrd's DNA wrap proved effective at killing isolated leukemia cells and solid tumours. A perfect example of how chemotherapy as we know it might become a thing of the past.
Viruses As Friends
New ways of delivering chemicals is clearly offering some hope but it would be wrong to think this is the only significant avenue of research. A team from Sheffield University in the UK have been experimenting with a completely different method of killing the cancer cells using viruses. Viruses have the built-in benefit of being able to multiply in line with the disease.