Cancer: No more hair loss through chemotherapy with a new method

Cancer: No more hair loss through chemotherapy with a new method

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No hair loss with chemotherapy?

Researchers have developed a new strategy to protect the hair follicles during chemotherapy, so that hair loss, which is one of the typical side effects of the therapy, is prevented.

The University of Manchester's latest investigation has found a new way to prevent hair loss from chemotherapy. The results of the study were published in the English language journal "EMBO Molecular Medicine".

Permanent hair loss due to taxanes?

The new strategy for protecting hair follicles could open up new treatment options that protect against hair loss in chemotherapy, one of the psychologically stressful side effects of modern cancer therapy. The researchers found how taxane (cancer medication), which causes hair loss, can prevent damage to the hair follicle. For this, the properties of a newer class of active substances called CDK4 / 6 inhibitors were used, which block cell division and are already medically approved as so-called targeted cancer therapies.

Why does hair loss occur?

“Although this initially appears to be contradictory, we have found that CDK4 / 6 inhibitors can be used temporarily to stop cell division without promoting additional toxic effects in the hair follicle,” explains study author Dr. Talveen Purba of the University of Manchester in a press release. Taxanes are very important drugs for the treatment of cancer. As a side effect, however, permanent hair loss can occur. A key part of the study was to first find out how exactly hair follicles respond to taxane chemotherapy. The researchers found that the specialized division cells at the base of the hair follicle, which are crucial for hair production itself and the stem cells, were the most susceptible to taxanes. Therefore, these cells have to be protected the most from undesirable chemotherapeutic effects.

How can hair loss be reduced?

The researchers hope that their work will support the development of externally applicable drugs that slow down or briefly suspend cell division in the scalp hair follicles of patients undergoing chemotherapy. This could alleviate the hair damage caused by chemotherapy.

More research is needed

Despite the fact that taxanes have been used for decades, not much has been known about how exactly they damage human hair follicles. It is also not known why some patients experience greater hair loss despite the same medication and drug dose, and why certain chemotherapy and drug combinations achieve much worse results than others, the researchers report. They hope that the new approaches can now be developed to not only prevent hair loss, but also to promote the regeneration of hair follicles in patients who have lost their hair due to chemotherapy. (as)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.


  • Talveen S Purba, Kayumba Ng'andu, Lars Brunken, Eleanor Smart, Ellen Mitchell et al .: CDK4 / 6 inhibition mitigates stem cell damage in a novel model for taxane-induced alopecia, in EMBO Molecular Medicin (query: 13.09.2019) , EMBO Molecular Medicin
  • Scientists discover new breakthrough in cancer hair loss treatmen, University of Manchester (query: 13.09.2019), University of Manchester

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