The most well-known side effect of chemotherapy for hair loss is the dreadful public disclosure of patients’ condition. Luminate Medical may have a solution in a medical wearable that prevents the chemical cocktail from tainting hair follicles, preventing the worst of the loss and perhaps relegating this highly visible condition to the past.
Aaron Hannon, Luminate’s CEO and co-founder Barbara Oliveira asked patients and doctors for ideas in areas where they might be able to innovate. Hannon said that they were “astonished” at the dominance of hair loss during their conversation. So, we have been focused laser on creating that thing that does not exist since then.
The cancer-inhibiting drug is administered to patients undergoing chemotherapy. It travels throughout their body, including the veins. Side effects include weakness, nausea and hair loss. Luminate, in collaboration with Galway’s National University of Ireland, has developed a solution that prevents blood from getting to these cells.
This is achieved by a mechanized compression head garment. It sounds strange, but it’s not. The pressure is created by air bladders pressing on the scalp and pads. Hannon claims that the pressure is comfortable and is closely monitored.
The cells are also protected from damage due to lack of blood flow. He said that compression therapy was well researched. There is a lot of literature on how long these treatments can be used without causing damage to the cells. It takes a lot of engineering to make it comfortable and efficient.
The cap is worn by the patient during and following the entire chemo treatment. It prevents blood from flowing to the scalp, allowing the drug to reach the cancerous site.
Animal tests showed that the headset retains hair at around 80 percent. There were no adverse side effects. Although full human trials will take time and approval, preliminary testing of its bloodflow-blocking effect on healthy subjects has shown that it does work as expected.
Hannon stated, “We are really pleased about the efficacy and versatility of this therapy since it works with many hair types.” This is a significant consideration as a tech that works only with straight or short hair would be unable to serve a wide range of people.
Hannon said that wigs are the most expensive. There are newer treatments which cool the hair instead of compressing. A wig costs an average thousand dollars, so there is plenty of room for devices in the area.
Many insurance companies consider hair loss a medical condition and wigs can be covered. However, approval for Luminate’s device will require a lot of documentation and time. The team believes that the cost of the device, which costs around $1,500 is affordable, provided other expenses are covered by insurance. It is not only wigs that people spend so much on, but also other products and methods to keep their hair in place. Many people wouldn’t think twice about checking the box that says “don’t lose your hair” when they purchase chemo forms.
Luminate hopes to make the device available to all who are able. They have FDA approval, a U.S. launch and plans to expand to Europe.
Luminate is a recent graduate of Y Combinator’s Summer 2021 cohort. It has had the privilege to work with funds from grants provided by the Irish government. These grants are non-dilutive. Although more capital is almost certain to be needed when it comes time for international scaling and launch, the current team’s focus is on getting the device in the hands of the first patients.
Publiated Mon, 30 August 2021 at 17:53:43 (+0000).