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Brief Items of Interest, August 2017

A few days later than usual due to the major new developments that I had to discuss in my prior two posts.

Hair loss news first:

— I covered an interesting “COOL” new company named PolarityTE last month. A new article about the company mentions a possible product rollout in early 2018. Although focused on regenerating the skin (especially for burn victims), the technology will also include hair regeneration on the new skin.

— I covered Dr. Lu Le and his team’s groundbreaking discovery related to the biological processes behind both hair loss and grey hair in a post from May of this year. Now their local Dallas newspaper has much more detailed coverage of Dr. Le and his work. An interesting read.

— The first ever International Hair Restoration Conference was held in Vancouver, Canada in April 2017. During the past two months, the organizer has been releasing some interesting videos from the conference, including from the generally reclusive Dr. Kevin McElwee (Replicel) and Dr. Ray Woods (FUE hair transplant pioneer). Note that Dr. McElwee wrote most of the material on (and he used to run the now nonexistent hair loss forums on there). Moreover, he is a co-author of an interesting new paper on hair loss  titled “Experimental and early investigational drugs for androgenetic alopecia“.

— Histogen’s proprietary “multipotent cell conditioned media” will be marketed by leading global cosmetics concern Allergan via the Regenica line of product. Although not related to Histogen’s main Hair Stimulating Complex (HSC) hair loss product, it is worth noting that Allergan has several hair loss products (Bimatoprost and Setipiprant) that it is also developing. Perhaps they could purchase the rights to the HSC product in the future too?

Very interesting study from Iran. Conclusion: “Our data showed that injection of a combination of adult human cultured dermal papilla and epithelial cells could induce hair growth in nude mice”.

— Denmark’s Harklinikken is definitely not a miracle product for hair loss treatment, but it seems like it may have some benefits per the NY Times (h/t commentator Rene). And the company has major expansion plans for the US market. Their product is derived from cow’s milk and various plants.

And now on to medical items of interest:

US scientists make genetically modified embryo. First ever case in the US. More here.

Breakthrough device heals organs via touch. Extremely hard to believe, but the research comes from a reputable university. The device delivers new DNA or RNA into living skin cells in order to change their function:

— Scientists successfully make old human cells younger via lengthening telomeres.

— Some retinas are indestructible and do not need regeneration:

Harvesting the blood of the young.

New high resolution 3D printing of live tissues.

Blood test detects Alzheimer’s plaques in brain.

Zion Harvey update. I covered this story several times before on this blog if you do a search.

Stem cell brain implants could extend lifespan 10-15 percent.

3D printing revolutionizing plastic surgery.

Aclaris Therapeutics and Dr. Neal Walker Update

Aclaris Therapeutics has been in the news a lot so far this month. The company has gone overboard with press releases and e-mail alerts (if you are subscribed) during the first two weeks of August. When I read all their recent press releases, I saw very little in the way of their topical JAK inhibitor program for male pattern hair loss, although one reader e-mailed me about one particular sentence in this press release in which they state that they will:

“Continue to develop another series of topical JAK inhibitors for the treatment of androgenetic alopecia (AGA)”.

Also of major interest is their recent purchase of Confluence Life Sciences.

However, something else extremely significant that I totally missed (despite my weekly Google Alerts about the company) was sent to me by a blog reader yesterday. It is a 10-page Seeking Alpha earnings call/interview with Aclaris CEO Neal Walker and others (can only be viewed in its entirety after registration). There are numerous interesting points in those 10 pages, but by far the most important for our purposes are the below two quotes from the CEO:

Mr. Walker: “We view the soft JAK as applicable to things like male-female pattern baldness”.

Shorty thereafter…

Mr Lugo: “Understood. What’s the timing for the soft JAK program entering the clinic? I’m not sure I heard that”.

Mr. Walker: “We will be giving a more full guidance on that at our Investor Day. We’re looking at approximately 2 years for some of our pipeline assets“.

My Thoughts

  • It seems like they are classifying “topical covalently bound JAK inhibitors” as “soft JAK inhibitors”.
  • Their collaboration and subsequent takeover of Confluence Life Sciences involves soft JAK inhibitor technology among other things. Mr. Walker points out elsewhere in the interview that their original reason for collaboration with Confluence entailed the latter’s soft JAK inhibitor technology.
  • I presume that Mr. Lugo’s comment about “entering the clinic” means being in use at clinics. It seems very hard to imagine that this can happen in two years as Mr. Walker seems to imply. Aclaris’ pipeline currently has both its hair loss related topical JAK inhibitors in pre-clinical trials. The only way they could get these to the clinic in two years is if somehow the US FDA has significantly less stringent regulations for topical versions of drugs relative to oral versions of the same drugs (especially if the oral version has already been approved or is in final phase 3 trials in two years).

So the JAK hope-train continues even if commentator “nasa_rs” is missing lately:-)