Chemotherapy baldness thwarted in rats

From San Francisco, at the 91st Annual Meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research

Drug therapies target tumors by killing rapidly dividing cells. Unfortunately, these treatments also knock out cells that grow hair. Scientists studying rats have now developed a medication that wards off this side effect of cancer therapy.

They smeared a compound called GW8510 on the skin of more than 100 newborn rats given chemotherapy. Although young rats given chemotherapy normally lose their hair, all the hair was preserved in roughly half the treated rats. The others retained 25 to 75 percent of their hair, says Stephen T. Davis of Glaxo Wellcome in Research Triangle Park, N.C., who presented the findings.

GW8510 inhibits the enzyme cyclin-dependent kinase 2, which helps trigger cell division and attracts chemotherapy drugs. Applied in a clear gel, the drug apparently didn’t enter the bloodstream and so didn’t undermine the effects of chemotherapy elsewhere. Nor did it have any obvious side effects, Davis says. He envisions a shampoo treatment for patients if further tests prove GW8510 to be safe.

More Stories from Science News on Health & Medicine