Cold Cap Therapy for Chemo Patients: Interview with Kate Dilligan, CEO of Cooler Heads Care

Cooler Heads Care, a medical technology company based in San Diego, has developed Amma, a cold hood therapy device designed to help chemotherapy patients maintain their hair. Hair loss is a very common side effect of chemotherapy and poses a significant psychological challenge to patients who are already struggling with their diagnosis and treatment.

Simply cooling the scalp during chemotherapy can drastically reduce the amount of drug absorbed by the hair follicles, resulting in less hair loss. However, the current technology to achieve this comes at a high price and can cost the patient up to $ 8,000. This is out of reach for many patients, so Cooler Heads Care created Amma’s patient-managed cooling cap system, which costs significantly less on a rental program at around $ 2,000 per patient.

The device will be sent to the patient’s home and the company will provide training on how to use it. Patients can bring the device to their chemo sessions and then take it home to continue therapy. The company was a finalist in the latest Medtech Innovator Global Competition.

Watch a video on the technology:

Medgadget had the opportunity to speak to Kate Dilligan, CEO of Cooler Heads Care, about the technology.

Conn Hastings, Medgadget: How does hair loss affect patients receiving chemotherapy?

Kate Dilligan, Radiator head care: Hair loss from chemotherapy (chemo) is devastating for both men and women. When a chemo patient loses their hair, it is suddenly a public and sometimes permanent reminder to them and the outside world that they are sick. Patients often talk about feeling sorry for themselves and being treated as disabled when they do chemo.

Cold-cap therapy is not about beauty, but about protecting privacy, freedom of choice and identity. Chemotherapy patients want to be seen for who they are, not as sick. Keeping hair on during chemotherapy allows people to control who knows about their illness and who doesn’t. It also gives patients a choice in how to deal with their side effects and gives them stability when their lives are completely out of control and in need of treatment. Most importantly, patients keep their hair so that they can continue to see themselves in the mirror, which is an incredibly powerful thing for maintaining their sense of self.

Medgadget: What inspired you to develop a technology to reduce hair loss during chemotherapy?

Kate Dilligan: It’s one of the quintessential founders’ stories – I was diagnosed with cancer in 2016. When I asked my nurse about the cooling cap therapy my friend discovered, her response was, “We have had patients who have used it with good results, but most people pay at least $ 6,000 so we don’t talk about it.” I decided to move on to cold cap therapy and was able to keep my hair for eight chemo cycles at a cost of $ 8,000.

I saw the same patients during my chemotherapy sessions. I clearly remember a woman who asked me how I still had my hair. I explained the cold cap therapy and how much it cost, and she immediately started crying. I will always remember her saying, “I wish this was a choice I could have made.”

As I went through chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation, I noticed my medical team routinely told me that I didn’t look sick. I felt pretty awful, but I still felt like myself and kept working and being social. Keeping my hair on during treatment allowed me to categorize my illness and treatment.

I built our Amma cooling cap therapy device because all chemotherapy patients with solid tumors have a choice of whether or not to endure one of the most noticeable side effects of cancer treatment.

Medgadget: Please give us an overview of the device and how a patient would use it.

Kate Dilligan: Amma, our cold therapy device, consists of three main parts: 1) A cooling wrap that cools the head; 2) a compression cap that holds the cooling jacket in place; and 3) a portable cooling unit that maintains the proper temperature of the liquid circulating through the cooling envelope.

We send Amma directly to the patients and train them at home in the use of the system and bring it with us for chemotherapy. They put on the cap system, enter the time their chemotherapy infusion will take, and attach it to the portable cooling unit when they come for chemotherapy. After the infusion, they will be given an additional two hours of scalp cooling. During this time, patients then unplug the device and continue their treatment in the car and in the comfort of their own home. Once the cooling process is complete, the patient simply stows the device away and brings it to the next infusion. When the chemotherapy is over, the patients send Amma back to us.

We have spent a lot of time working with patients, lawyers, and providers to understand the barriers to accessing this treatment. The main problems were cost, poor fit, and stress on the infusion centers. While the existing solutions average between $ 3,000 and $ 8,000, Amma has a flat rental fee of $ 2,000. In addition, we have built up a flexible cooling layer so that patients cover their scalp evenly and avoid blotchy bald spots. After all, we built Amma to be truly patient-managed and portable, freeing up the infusion center resources and caregivers.

Medgadget: How Do Cooler Temperatures Help Reduce Chemotherapy-Related Hair Loss?

Kate Dilligan: Cold-cap therapy is medically induced hypothermia. By bringing the patient’s scalp temperature to 68 degrees Fahrenheit before, during, and after chemotherapy, the hair follicles do not absorb the chemotherapy, so patients can keep their hair.

Medgadget: At what stage of clinical development is the device? What are the next steps for the technology?

Kate Dilligan: We are happy to announce that Amma just received FDA approval last month. We expect the device to reach patients’ hands in the first quarter of 2022. We have already selected our pilot locations where the device will be made available for the first time and are expected to also start post-market studies in early 2022. We also look forward to having data soon to show that Amma can become the standard for scalp cooling.

Medgadget: Congratulations as a finalist in this year’s MedTech Innovator Global competition. How do you plan to spend the prize money?

Kate Dilligan: MedTech Innovator was a fantastic experience. We are using the money we won as a finalist as part of our push to commercialize the Amma device. We are eager and excited to be helping patients early next year.

Link: Radiator head care …

Flashback: DigniCap Delta Hair Loss Prevention System For Chemo Now In The US

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