News from Taipai reaches us that a team of researchers are claiming success in their search for a cure to the problem of hair loss associated with chemotherapy.
Chemotherapy Hair Loss
Hair loss is a deeply distressing and unwelcome side-effect of the harsh chemicals used during chemotherapy. The drugs used during chemo have been deliberately developed to target fast growing cells and unfortunately hair cells are among the fastest in the body. This results in the majority of patients losing most or all of their hair at a time when they are undergoing a traumatic treatment for cancer.
The relatively recent arrival of Cooling Caps onto the market gave these patients an option for the first time. These devices are designed to fit over the scalp and super cool it during the chemo session, the theory being that the reduced blood flow to the region reduces the exposure to the harsh chemicals. They have a variable prognosis with many patients still experiencing complete hair loss. Just the same, they were a welcome addition for a problem affecting so many and with nothing already on offer.
Reported in Focus Taiwan we spotted a story on some local research that could really make a difference to chemo patients, offering the promise of a cure… though there is a big but.
A team at the National Taiwan University, led by Lin Sung-Jan, a professor of biomedical engineering, were conducting stem cell research using fluorescent gene targeting as part of a broader cross-field research programme being conducted by the Ministry of Science and Technology.
They discovered that in the period immediately after being exposed to low level radiation the hair follicles exhibited some unusual behaviour. Instead of activating bulge stem cells to repair the damage they produced some atypical stem cells at the base of the bulb. They went on to discover that with a protein injection they could disrupt that process, tests on animals would show that these injections were effective in preventing “genotoxicity induced” hair loss of the type suffered by chemotherapy patients.
HIS Hair Clinic
This is fantastic news given that today some women refuse to undergo chemotherapy due to the high risk of hair loss. For the majority that do go through with treatment and suffer the hair loss it is a cruel blow at such a difficult time, one that marks you out to strangers as unwell when you just desperately want to be treated as normal. The big but we mentioned earlier is the prognosis for getting these injections to market. Professor Lin told Focus Taiwan (see the original article by clicking here) that they are currently negotiating with foreign companies to conduct human trials though a commercial product is not likely within 10 years in his estimation. We will be watching all the way.
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