In 10 seconds? Permanent hair loss (alopecia) is one of the most distressing side effects of cancer chemotherapy. A recent study suggests that a drug called palbociclib may prevent hair loss caused by one of the common drugs used in chemotherapy.

What’s the issue? While hair loss following chemotherapy is a common and often reversible side effect of chemotherapy, some people suffer from irreversible alopecia after treatment with taxanes, a class of commonly used chemotherapy drugs for breast, lung, ovarian and cervical cancer. Researchers modeled a human hair follicle in a petri dish, finding that treatment with taxanes arrested or ‘froze’ cells in mitosis, the part of cell division that results in two ‘daughter’ nuclei. Eventually, these cells died in a process called apoptosis. While this is great for preventing cancer cells from multiplying, it also affects the stem cell compartment of a hair follicle.

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