One of the most common symptoms of cancer treatment (chemotherapy) includes hair loss. This condition is referred to as alopecia. In some circumstances, hair loss may be permanent because of the use of taxanes.
Researchers from the Purba in the Centre for Dermatology Research at the University of Manchester in the United Kingdom have come up with an innovative way of preventing hair loss from such treatment.
The findings of the paper “CDK4/6 inhibition mitigates stem cell damage in a novel model for taxane‐induced alopecia” appear in the journal EMBO Molecular Medicine.
Taxanes are a type of poison for the base of hair follicles. It damages them to a great extent. The hair nodes contain the rapidly dividing cells needed for healthy hair growth.
Researchers have come up with a drug called CDK4/6 inhibitors which prevents hair nodes damage done by taxanes. To observe this, researchers used cultured hair follicles which they dipped into CDK4/6 inhibitors. Talveen S. Purba, Ph.D., observed that now taxanes produced very minimal damage to the hair nodes.
How does CDK4/6 prevent permanent hair loss?
The two most common taxanes used in chemotherapy treatments for removing solid tumors are paclitaxel and docetaxel. Such tumors are common in the lungs and breast.
Researchers for their experiment cultured the hair follicles in the lab under the natural conditions. The hair follicle can be referred to as a mini-organ which is easy to remove and culture it on whole. The two taxanes damaged the cell division process and growth of hair follicles to a great extent.
Taxanes mainly cause damage to the stem cells and amplifying cells. This triggers “severity and permanence of taxane chemotherapy-induced alopecia.”
The researchers then included a CDK4/6 inhibitor named palbociclib in the cultured hair follicle. They found that palbociclib prevented any further damage to the follicle.
The burden of chemotherapy
As per the research paper, Taxanes are a leading cause of severe and often permanent chemotherapy-induced alopecia.
It is due to this fact that people do not consider chemotherapy as an option for treating cancer. It not only damages one’s life quality but also lowers the person’s self-esteem. In America, 8% of the total patients refuse to have treatment because of the psychosocial burden.
Researchers hope that their research will bring such ointments that could be applied before starting the chemotherapy and these creams will prevent hair loss. It can also prevent hair loss from the other parts of the body including eyebrows, pubic hair, and beards.
The author writes about how researchers are aware of the fact that taxanes cause hair loss and is being used in clinics for a long time. Right now they are just looking into the mechanism which causes the hair follicles to damage in the chemotherapy.
The research is a cell-protective therapy which can be safely implemented in the hospitals. However, researchers’ stills assert that there is a need for more in this field.
Researchers aim to produce such ointments and drugs that could help patients who have already lost their hair during chemotherapy treatments.