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NCI Cancer Center News

Timing of cancer radiation therapy may minimize hair loss

  • Posted: May 21, 2013

Discovering that mouse hair has a circadian clock -- a 24-hour cycle of growth followed by restorative repair -- researchers suspect that hair loss in humans from toxic cancer radiotherapy and chemotherapy might be minimized if these treatments are given late in the day. The researchers, from Salk Institute for Biological Studies, the University of Southern California (home of the USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center) and the University of California, Irvine, worked out the precise timing of the hair circadian clock, and also uncovered the biology behind the clockwork -- the molecules that tells hair when to grow and when to repair damage. They then tested the clock using radiotherapy.

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Among the research institutions NCI funds across the United States, it currently designates 67 as Cancer Centers. Largely based in research universities, these facilities are home to many of the NCI-supported scientists who conduct a wide range of intense, laboratory research into cancer’s origins and development. The Cancer Centers Program also focuses on trans-disciplinary research, including population science and clinical research. The centers’ research results are often at the forefront of studies in the cancer field.