Luminate goals to make hair loss from chemotherapy a factor of the previous – TechCrunch


Hair loss ensuing from chemotherapy is without doubt one of the most recognizable uncomfortable side effects in all of drugs, and for a lot of is an undesirable public announcement of their situation and remedy. Luminate Medical might have an 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 previous.

When Luminate CEO Aaron Hannon and his co-founder Bárbara Oliveira have been asking sufferers and medical doctors about areas of most cancers remedy that they may maybe innovate in, “we have been simply astonished at how a lot hair loss dominated the dialog,” mentioned Hannon. “So from then on out we’ve simply been laser targeted on making that one thing that doesn’t exist any extra.”

When a affected person is present process chemotherapy, the cancer-inhibiting medicine course via their complete physique — anyplace the blood goes. This has a wide range of uncomfortable side effects, like weak spot and nausea, and on an extended time scale hair loss happens because the substances have an effect on the follicles. Luminate’s answer, developed in partnership with the Nationwide College of Eire Galway, is to stop the blood from reaching these cells within the first place.

Image of a woman wearing the Luminate headset.

Picture Credit: Luminate

The system that results it is a form of mechanized compression garment for the pinnacle. If that sounds a bit sinister, don’t fear — the stress comes from air bladders and pads urgent in opposition to the scalp, not screws or plates; Hannon says that it isn’t uncomfortable and stress is fastidiously monitored.

There’s additionally no danger of harm from lack of blood move in these cells. “Compression remedy has been very well studied,” he mentioned. “There are years of literature round how lengthy you may apply these therapies with out damaging the cells. There’s a specific amount of mechanical engineering concerned in making it each snug and efficient.”

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

Checks have been achieved on animals, which noticed hair retention of round 80 p.c with no antagonistic results — and whereas full human trials are one thing that may want a while and approval to arrange, preliminary assessments of the headset’s bloodflow-blocking results on wholesome sufferers confirmed that it really works precisely as anticipated on folks as nicely.

“We’re actually excited concerning the efficacy of this remedy as a result of it really works with plenty of hair sorts,” mentioned Hannon. That’s an 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.

Picture Credit: Luminate / Wild Island Photos

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

Though 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 should take time and many proof to get Luminate’s system accepted for these processes. However the group is assured that at round $1,500, the system is throughout the technique of many so long as different prices are being picked up by insurance coverage. Individuals do, in spite of everything, 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 kinds with a $1,500 price ticket, a complete lot of individuals would test it and not using a second thought.

Cofounders Bárbara Oliveira (left) and Aaron Hannon.

Picture Credit: Luminate

In the end, nonetheless, Luminate desires to have the ability to supply the system additionally to those that can’t afford the price out of pocket, so they’re progressing in direction of FDA approval and a U.S. launch, with Europe and others to come back.


To date Luminate, simply graduating from Y Combinator’s Summer season 2021 batch, has been fortunate sufficient to function on funds offered via grants from the Irish authorities, that are in fact non-dilutive. Whereas extra capital will virtually actually be required come time for scaling and worldwide launch, proper now the group is targeted on getting the system into the palms (and onto the heads) of its first set of sufferers.


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