Keeping a Cool Head Prevents Chemo Hair Loss

Data to be presented at the 14th St.Gallen International Breast Cancer Conference later this month, hair loss can be reduced or completely stopped following chemotherapy using a scalp-cooling method.

Background

Hair loss is a well-documented side effect of many chemotherapy regimens, with many patients finding it the most traumatic aspect of their treatment.

While not fully explained, data points to scalp cooling before, during and after the administration of chemotherapy, being an effective preventive measure. Several scientific hypotheses have been proposed, to explain why the therapy works. It’s thought that it could be a result of vasoconstriction, which dramatically reduces blood flow to the scalp, thereby reducing the amount of chemotherapeutic drug delivered to the hair follicles. Alternatively, the rate of drug diffusion across plasma membranes maybe reduced and thus lower the ‘effective’ drug dose entering the cells. Finally, lowering the temperature in cells can theoretically reduce the rate at which the drug is metabolized.

Whatever the explanation, it seems there’s increasingly widespread support for the therapy, as demonstrated in the success story that is Paxman Systems, a UK-based company that supplies the world’s leading scalp cooler. Paxman says its device has been used by over 100,000 patients, in 32 countries, with a claimed improvement in patients’ self-confidence and creating positive attitudes towards treatment.

The Paxman system is available in two models. Orbis I provides cooling for a single patient and is suitable for a small chemotherapy suite or private bed, whilst the Orbis II provides cooling for one or two patients simultaneously with each cap working independently. The lightweight scalp cooling cap is soft and flexible, proving snug yet comfortable during treatment. Moulding to all head shapes and sizes, liquid coolant passes through the cap extracting heat from the patient’s scalp, ensuring the scalp remains at an even, constant temperature.

The St.Gallen International Breast Cancer Conference is being held in Vienna, Austria, on March 18-21, 2015 with the papers; “Effect of cooling on cytotoxicity by monotherapy versus combinatorial chemotherapy in keratinocytes” and the “Role of cooling on the uptake of chemotherapy induced alopecia-causing drugs in human keratinocytes” presented on Thursday, 19 March. The research was carried out by Omar Hussain, Research Scientist at Paxman, Dr Nik Georgopoulos and Dr Andrew Collett of the University of Huddersfield.

Company comments

Speaking about the research, Richard Paxman Managing Director of Paxman, said: “We are delighted with the research and are extremely excited that it is being presented at this year’s BCC conference. Every day we hear personal stories from patients and their families about the positive results of scalp cooling so it is great to see clinical evidence to back this up.”

Regulatory status

While fully cleared for sale in Europe and many countries around the world, it seems FDA classification rules leave Paxman’s device in need of a full PMA approval before it can be made available in the U.S., despite the seemingly minuscule risk attached to its use. That said, the system is currently under clinical investigation in the US and has been granted Investigational Device Exemption (IDE) to undertake a multi-centre trial of 235 patients across a number of medical centres throughout the US.

Source: Paxman Systems

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