Chemotherapy Hair Loss: Best Way To Prevent It From Happening

Chemotherapy is known for causing alopecia or hair loss in patients. This side effect can be permanent and affect an individual’s self‐esteem and quality of life.

A new study, published in the journal EMBO Molecular Medicine, found a potential drug that could prevent such type of hair loss. It prevents the chemotherapy agents, taxanes, from damaging hair follicles. 

Researchers said 8 percent of cancer patients tend to avoid chemotherapy because of alopecia, Medical News Today reported Tuesday. During the therapy, taxanes harm niches of cells at the base of hair follicles, which play a role in hair production. 

The researchers said a class of drug, called CDK4/6 inhibitors, could help block the chemotherapy agents’ effects on hair. The drugs worked with two common taxanes, paclitaxel and docetaxel, which doctors commonly use for solid tumors in the breast and lung.

In lab tests, both paclitaxel and docetaxel initially caused significant damage to cell division processes that led to cell death in follicle cells. The damage stopped hair production.

But when the researchers applied palbociclib, a CDK4/6 inhibitor, before providing the taxanes, the hair continued to grow. The drug also did not cause any negative effect or unwanted changes. 

The team tested the drug and the chemotherapy agents on hair follicles from the scalps of consenting patients.

"When we bathed organ cultured human scalp hair follicles in CDK4/6 inhibitors the hair follicles were much less susceptible to the damaging effects of taxanes,” Talveen Purba, lead researcher and a research associate at the University of Manchester in the United Kingdom, said. 

Purba and her team hope that their findings would guide the development of new skin treatments that can be used on patients before chemotherapy to prevent hair loss. The researchers added the potential treatments may also support hair growth on other sites of the body, including eyebrows, beards and pubic hair.

However, more studies are needed to fully understand hair loss in cancer patients. Researchers also want to determine if it is possible to regenerate hair follicles in people who have already lost their hair permanently due to chemotherapy.

Hair loss Chemotherapy is known for its side effect that causes alopecia or hair loss in patients, which can be permanent and affect an individual’s quality of life. Pixabay