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14:04 ET COMPOUND PREVENTS HAIR LOSS FROM CHEMOTHERAPY


RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C., Jan. 4 (UPI) -- Hair loss can be a traumatic side effect of chemotherapy, but an experimental compound may offer new hope for cancer patients.

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.

(Reported by Lori Valigra in Cambridge, Mass.)









(c) 2001 UPI All rights reserved.


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Copyright 2000 by United Press International.





17:19 ET THE TIMES: SUNSHINE VITAMIN 'IS CLUE TO MS'
Jan 5, 2001, (The Times /FT World Media Abstracts via COMTEX) -- Research 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 Full Story

17:19 ET SLOVAK SOLDIERS TO UNDERGO MEDICAL CHECKS FOR BALKAN SYNDROME
PRAGUE (Jan. 5) XINHUA - 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. Full Story

17:19 ET PAIR JAILED FOR GIRL'S GENITAL MUTILATION
CAMBRIDGE, Mass., Jan. 5 (UPI) -- 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 Full Story

17:19 ET BRITISH DOCTOR MAY HAVE KILLED MORE THAN 250
LONDON, Jan. 5 (UPI) -- 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. Full Story

17:19 ET WALL STREET JOURNAL: HEALTH JOURNAL: NEW PROCEDURE MAKES SPINAL-FUSION SURGERY LESS TAXING ON PATIENT
Jan 5, 2001, (Wall Street Journal /FT World Media Abstracts via COMTEX) -- A 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 Full Story






 
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