Scalp Cooling Set To Advance

Scalp cooling has quickly established itself as a powerful remedy for hair loss associated with chemotherapy. News from the UK suggests it might be about to make a significant advance. We look closer.

Scalp Cooling

There was always an issue at the heart of chemotherapy. The highly toxic drugs used during the treatment to target the cancer cells work by targeting the fastest growing cells. Unfortunately, our hair cells fall into that category meaning that, almost invariably, chemotherapy had the side-effect of seeing the patient lose their hair. Far from a minor problem, it actually translates in the real world into people, predominantly women, who choose not to undergo the treatment for that sole reason. So a solution was desperately needed and sought after. Over the course of just the last couple of years, the use of scalp cooling caps has become widespread. They were approved for use in the USA earlier this year. The idea is that by reducing the temperature of the scalp and thus reducing blood flow to the region during the chemotherapy, it would be possible to reduce the amount of toxic drug delivered there and so prevent the hair loss. It has proved highly effective in up to 50% of cases. This still leaves another 50% who do not benefit and suggests that work still needs to be done. Great news out of Huddersfield in the UK suggests we might not have to wait too much longer to see that improvement.

Scalp Cooling Centre

The university of Huddersfield in the UK have established a £1M Scalp Cooling Research Centre, with the stated aim of achieving 100% efficacy. Their efforts are multi-pronged with the university’s Dr Ertu Unver, an expert in product design, working on improving the design so that the cap can fit more snugly in order to improve its effectiveness. Elsewhere, Biological Sciences Senior Lecturer Dr Iain Haslam is working on cultivating hair follicles in the lab. The intention is to make a close examination of precisely how follicles are affected by the toxicity of the chemo drugs. Already under development, and soon to be patented, is a product which is to be used as part of the process. This, apparently, has the potential to take the success rate up towards 80% for chemo patients. The final decision on how the delivery will work, whether through a shampoo or lotion, has yet to be made.

Future Plans

The Centre is funded to run for 5 years, during which time it expects to take their new product to clinical trials. A process that will take years rather than weeks to run its course, with additional rounds of funding to be required as it moves through the various rounds of trials.

Hair Loss For Women

We should bear in mind that progress for hair loss treatments can be, like hair growth itself, glacial in pace. There are several phases of approval to work through, each more expensive than the last. But we sincerely hope that the desperate demand from tens of thousands around the world going through chemotherapy will spur them through to completion.

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