Luminate aims to make hair loss from chemotherapy a thing of the past

Hair loss ensuing from chemotherapy is one of the most recognizable negative effects in all of medication, and for a lot of is an undesirable public announcement of their situation and therapy. Luminate Medical could have a answer in a medical wearable that stops the chemical cocktail from tainting hair follicles, stopping the worst of the loss and maybe relegating this extremely seen situation to the past.

When Luminate CEO Aaron Hannon and his co-founder Bárbara Oliveira have been asking sufferers and docs about areas of most cancers therapy that they may maybe innovate in, “we were just astonished at how much hair loss dominated the conversation,” mentioned Hannon. “So from then on out we’ve just been laser focused on making that something that doesn’t exist any more.”

When a affected person is present process chemotherapy, the cancer-inhibiting medication course via their total physique — wherever the blood goes. This has a selection of negative effects, like weak spot and nausea, and on a longer time scale hair loss happens as the substances have an effect on the follicles. Luminate’s answer, developed in partnership with the National University of Ireland Galway, is to stop the blood from reaching these cells in the first place.

Image Credits: Luminate

The gadget that results that is a kind of mechanized compression garment for the head. If that sounds a bit sinister, don’t fear — it makes use of solely smooth supplies to obtain the strain; Hannon says that it isn’t uncomfortable and strain is rigorously monitored.

There’s additionally no threat of injury from lack of blood circulate in these cells. “Compression therapy has been really well studied,” he mentioned. “There are years of literature around how long you can apply these therapies without damaging the cells. There’s a certain amount of mechanical engineering involved in making it both comfortable and effective.”

The affected person wears the cap throughout and after the entire chemo session. By limiting blood circulate to the pores and skin of the scalp solely, it permits the medication to circulate unimpeded to wherever the tumor or most cancers web site is whereas saving the hair follicles from injury.

Tests have been achieved on animals, which noticed sturdy hair retention of round 80 % with no antagonistic results — and whereas full human trials are one thing that can want a while and approval to arrange, preliminary exams of the headset’s bloodflow-blocking results on wholesome sufferers confirmed that it really works precisely as anticipated on individuals as properly.

“We’re really excited about the efficacy of this therapy because it works with lots of hair types,” mentioned Hannon. That’s a actual consideration, since a tech that solely labored with quick hair, straight hair, or another subset of hairstyles would exclude far too many individuals.

Luminate's app showing how long is left in therapy for the user.

Image Credits: Luminate / Wild Island Pictures

As for competitors, though there are some new therapies that cool the scalp as an alternative of compressing it, Hannon famous that the most cash is spent by far on wigs. An common of a thousand {dollars} per affected person who opts for a wig means there’s appreciable leeway for a gadget in that neighborhood.

Although hair loss is taken into account a medical situation by many insurance coverage corporations and different strategies of reimbursement, and wigs are sometimes coated, it’s going to take time and much of proof to get Luminate’s gadget authorized for these processes. But the group is assured that at round $1,500, the gadget is inside the means of many so long as different prices are being picked up by insurance coverage. People do, in any case, spend that a lot and extra not simply on wigs however on different hair retention merchandise and strategies. If there was a checkbox for “don’t lose hair” on the chemo varieties with a $1,500 price ticket, a entire lot of individuals would test it with out a second thought.

Cofounders Bárbara Oliveira (left) and Aaron Hannon.

Image Credits: Luminate

Ultimately, nonetheless, Luminate desires to give you the chance to supply the gadget additionally to those that can’t afford the value out of pocket, so they’re progressing in the direction of FDA approval and a U.S. launch, with Europe and others to come.


So far Luminate, simply graduating from Y Combinator’s Summer 2021 batch, has been fortunate sufficient to function on funds supplied via grants from the Irish authorities, that are of course non-dilutive. While extra capital will virtually definitely be required come time for scaling and worldwide launch, proper now the group is targeted on getting the gadget into the palms (and onto the heads) of its first set of sufferers.

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