COMPOUND PREVENTS HAIR LOSS FROM CHEMOTHERAPY
Hair loss can be a traumatic
side effect of chemotherapy, but an experimental compound may offer new hope for
Researchers at pharmaceutical company Glaxo Wellcome Inc. report in Friday's
issue of Science that the compound, rubbed into the skin of rodents, prevented
hair loss in up to 50 percent of rats treated with it. The compound still is in
early stage experiments, and has not yet been tested in humans.
Currently, there is no effective prevention for such hair loss, also known as
chemotherapy-induced alopecia, which typically occurs a few weeks after
chemotherapy is first given. Many anti-cancer drugs work by killing cells that
divide rapidly but the drugs cannot distinguish between tumor cells and the
normal epithelial cells in the hair follicle, which also divide quickly.
In the 1980s, doctors had tried to chill the head with a turban of ice during
treatment to temporarily reduce the flow of blood containing chemotherapy to the
scalp, but results were mixed. The new compound works by temporarily suspending
cell division in the hair follicle and stopping the activity of cyclin-dependent
kinase 2 or CDK2, an enzyme that controls a key step in cell division.
In this way, the chemotherapy drugs will not target the hair follicle cells.
"We've blocked cell division in the hair follicle and blocked the process of
cell death," said Stephen Davis, lead author of the article and a senior
research investigator at Glaxo Wellcome in Research Triangle Park, N.C.
Most chemotherapy patients experience hair loss, which lasts during the entire
four to six months of treatment. It usually takes about six to eight weeks for
humans to begin regrowing their hair after chemotherapy, making for a long
period during which they are self-conscious.
"This is exciting, because patients, especially female patients, say the biggest
problem with going through chemotherapy is hair loss, despite other problems
like anemia and vomiting," said Dr. LaMar McGinnis, senior medical consultant
for the American Cancer Society and a surgical oncologist in Atlanta. "Hair loss
is an externally visible sign that the patient is a cancer patient, so this
could offer great relief to them."
In an accompanying news story in Science, cancer researcher Stephen Friend of
Rosetta Inpharmatics Inc. of Kirkland, Wash., said after nausea and vomiting,
loss of image is one of the major side effects of chemotherapy. "Keeping that
image intact has a lot to do with fighting the disease," Friend said.
The Glaxo Wellcome compound was tested in newborn rats that also were given
either the anti-tumor chemotherapy drug etoposide or a combination of
cyclophosphamide and doxorubicin, drugs typically given for breast and lung
cancer. In the case of etoposide, Davis said 50 percent of the animals retained
more than 50 percent of their hair. And in the case of the drug combination, 33
percent of the rats retained 50 percent or more of their hair.
Davis said the reason the drugs didn't work in 100 percent of the rats is that
there is variation in response to drugs among rats. The researchers also tested
the compound in special mice by implanting human scalp onto their backs. The
compound acted to inhibit cell division in the hair follicles of the scalp.
Davis said more tests are needed to determine the safety and efficacy of the
compound before it is tested in humans, but so far, it appears to have no side
effects. He said Glaxo Wellcome has not yet decided on its next move with the
compound. McGinnis said he hopes the compound will move through clinical trials
and be approved soon, as it will help cancer patients with their image.
THE TIMES: SUNSHINE VITAMIN 'IS CLUE TO MS'
conducted by scientists at the University of East Anglia has found that sunlight
can reduce the risk of developing multiple sclerosis, strokes and heart disease.
Findings of the study on MS cases in several countries show that people living
SLOVAK SOLDIERS TO UNDERGO MEDICAL CHECKS FOR BALKAN SYNDROME
The Slovak Defense Ministry said Friday that all
Slovak participants who had served in the peacekeeping missions in the Balkans
would undergo medical check- ups amid growing concerns over the Balkan syndrome
in Europe, the local media reported.
PAIR JAILED FOR GIRL'S GENITAL MUTILATION
A Massachusetts couple faced deportation to
India after being sentenced to prison for allowing injuries including genital
mutilation to a 3-year-old girl, a report said Friday
BRITISH DOCTOR MAY HAVE KILLED MORE THAN 250
An official report issued Friday said a British
physician convicted of murdering 15 patients may have been responsible for the
deaths of as many as 297 people.
WALL STREET JOURNAL: HEALTH JOURNAL: NEW PROCEDURE MAKES SPINAL-FUSION
SURGERY LESS TAXING ON PATIENT
new endoscopic spinal-fusion procedure has been credited with transforming the
lives of several chronic back pain sufferers. The new technique has been
described as an entirely different operation from the current spinal-fusion