Follica Update

I have discussed Follica briefly in various posts on this blog.  For the most part, I have assumed that the company either has insufficient funding or its owners have very limited  interest/ motivation to ever come out with their seemingly very safe technology involving wounding and the creation of NEW hair. Follica was founded in 2006, so I stopped looking at them seriously after almost a decade of waiting.

However, today Follica was issued an important patent governing its wounding technology (it seems like the patent will also cover the application of some compounds after wounding).

Moreover, in my brief updates post from last month, I mentioned Dr. Cotsarelis being granted a new patent related to FGF-9 and hair growth (he filed for the patent in 2014).  Follica’s technology is based on work done by Dr. Cotsarelis, and it seems like one of the things that the company might do after wounding is to add the FGF-9 growth factor into the scalp?

I am still not overly optimistic about Follica, since there are 100s of examples of patents issued in the hair loss world without any of them actually resulting in a decent treatment for hair loss. Nevertheless, it is great to see Follica back in the news.  Among hair loss researchers, Dr. Cotsarelis seems to be the king of patent holders.

The following quote regarding Follica’s technology from this 2013 article is quite encouraging:

Although Follica has released few details on their proprietary procedure, the general idea is clear: their patented minimally invasive “skin perturbation” device removes the top layers of skin, causing the underlying skin cells to revert to a stem-like state, after which a molecule is applied topically to direct the formation of new hair follicles.  Indeed, Follica has already done preclinical and clinical trials, says Olle, “all of which confirm that we can consistently create new hair follicles in mice and in humans. As far as I know, no other approach has been able to achieve that.”

Interestingly, Dr. Ken Washenik is a scientific adviser to Follica. The company itself is owned by PureTech, which owns a dozen healthcare sector companies as of today.

Finally, it is worth reading the 100s of comments to articles on Follica from 2013 and from 2011.

34 thoughts on “Follica Update”

  1. Interesting….. for some odd reason I believe folica will bring something to market quicker than anyone else. They were the only ones to be mentioned in the Today show nbc and cnn. It’s good to have major news channels promote your products. Let’s hope something comes out soon because I am running out of time since propecia stopped working for me:(

    1. I agree a far as quicker to market. For those who are moderately to severely bald they need a scalp reboot and this to me seems like the best option.

  2. Out of all the approaches and sciences I’ve read, I have long felt this could be the best shot the AGA community has as far as turning a NW 4+ back into a NW 1/0. As long as the concoction of chemicals applied to the scalp/taken by mouth was correct, I think this has a great shot of working. Instead of trying to unwind the complexity of AGA, this is essentially taking a “screw it” approach instead of trying to fix something that so far has been largely unfixable despite science’s best efforts.

      1. I saw that link too. Can only assume he’s either a recent edition or it’s an error. Nowhere on Follica or puretech’s list of advisers is he mentioned.

  3. University of Pennsylvania is an extremely well known research university and it has the top dermatology program in the country. Follica was the only hair loss research biotechnology company that focuses on hair loss to have a 10 min news spot on the Today show and NBC news. I never saw any other hair loss company on the news. They are just mentioned in forums. Now why are they so quiet? Why haven’t we seen any pictures or results of follica? I have no idea. I highly doubt he would do all this research and trials on Humans just for fun and not release any thing to market. He sold Setiprant to a biotechnology kythera who is now Akerman. My guess is that he released Setiprant as the future medication to take like propecia and that the wounding procedure will be the new style of in patient hair transplant. So he covers both prescription drug solution to hair loss and operation style treatment for hair loss via the wounding. If my assumption is true then this man is a genius and deserves a noble peace prize if he release these treatments to solve our mpb problems. If he can take a Norwood 5 to a thick Norwood 2 then this would be marvelous!

  4. @mjones: Follica technology doesn’t have to replace traditional HT. If you add them together + modern drugs like Seti etc., even NW 6-7 may become NW2. As far as Follica is concerned, we are talking about hair neogenesis, so we will be save with it. The only question is: WHEN? I know that Cotsarelis will have a talk during the hair congress in november, maybe he will say something more concrete? Btw. that november may be the most enthusiastic time in the field of hair loss ever. Samumed will show results from phase 2, maybe Allergan will say sth about Bimatoprost, also the subject of stem cell therapies will be talked and all the greatest hair scientists will be present (among the others: T. Tsuji).

  5. Cool thanks for the clarification Barthes:) Either way it’s good hehe. The only thing I am certain of is if they say 5 to 10 more years then I have lost all hope on a hair loss treatment and will truly believe either scientist are completely useless or that their is a huge hidden agenda where someone is stopping a real good treatment to market so that they don’t lose money ( possible threats are Merk, HT industry and Rogaine manufacturer ). I mean it’s been since the mid 90s since a treatment has come out. I find it really weird they can’t come up with anything slightly better than rogaine or propecia all these years.

    1. I don’t buy into the hidden agenda conspiracy. There is so much money to be made in a massive market with very unsatisfied buyers. I think AGA has been much more complex than many realize. Couple this with the massive amount of money it costs to try to bring something novel to market, and the amount of mud the FDA makes conpanies go through (some of it being necessary for safety), so there is a reason these things seem to move slow. Do we really want to spend 20-30+ more years looking for the “needle in the haystack?” Or do we want to want to try a complete rewrite of the messed up scalp? This is why I like the follicular neogenesis via wounding hypothesis so much. It may be impossible to reverse our current baldness effectively through the traditional approaches. Since stem cells are retained completely in the bald/balding scalp, theoretically with the right signals this wounding would reset the entire slate of the scalp clean, and allow new healthy follicles to form. Very exciting that they have been granted a patent. Sometimes silence speaks the loudest and when a company with as many leaders in the industry as follica has says nothing, they are making some real progress and want to protect the intellectual property they are about to cash in on.

  6. For some reason I have a good feeling about Follica and have since I first heard of them…not sure why but this news gives me more hope. I wonder though if the skin perturbation causes scarring in any way? It’s difficult to imagine something peeling back layers of skin without leaving a mark.

  7. @Daniel: theoretically wounding the skin may leave some scars etc. but I am sure that a serious company with top scientists will elaborate method to avoid it before commercialisation of their treatment.

  8. They also mentioned a home treatment kit in their patent. I guess we go into a follica medical room get the first wounding done then they give us some sort of device that will allow us to do it at home to keep up for maintenance. I am sure these new folicle will not be immune to dht so continously wounding and applying igf will be necessary. I have no problem with it just as long the results are thick dense healthy hairs. Nw2 status thickness. We deserve to have our hair back! I would 50k to have this crap cured

  9. @mjones: you are right, I also think that new follicles wouldn’t be DHT-resistant. So let’s imagine combining it with Replicel if it may really stop hair thinning by changing structure of injected follicles. Regrowth with Follica, Replicel for maintenance (in 2018) and our nightmare will be finished!
    The only thing I can’t understand is that Follica is performing clinical trials actually, but there is nothing in clinical about it. Is it possible to conduct a trial oficially in absolute secrecy? Admin, what do you think?

  10. Yeah that whole clinical trial thing is a bit mysterious but if he said they completed them then that’s awesome! Bring out your product Follica so we can grow back our hair and live normally again. Tired of freaking waiting for a lousy hair growth solution. Wtf

  11. Yeah, I agree it is very strange that they say they’ve done clinical trials yet we’ve heard nothing. I’d like to think this is a good sign but we’ll see…im eagerly anticipating more news from them. And yes, I too would gladly pay 50k or even more to have the hair of my youth back. Now if only this prevented gray/white hair too….

    1. The more I think about this, the more excited I get. A couple of additional tidbits, Cotsarelis sold off (is still involved with but sold the rights) to what is now allergen for setipiprant/pgd2 pathway hypothesis. This makes me think that he and the rest of PureTech must be very comfortable with where Follica is right now, and maybe Setipiprant will just be a much superior preventative drug than finasteride for those who already have hair. Either way, they’ve done a damn good job at keeping everything under wraps, and now got critical patents approved. Cotsarelis has spent his entire career on hair biology specifically the stem cell niche. Ollie who is one of the founders is one of the most high respected in the field. Then the fact that Luis Garza who has collaborated closely with him in the past has just come out with new research implicating a master “first switch” response to skin tissue injury, TLR-3 which is know to then signal responses from SHH pathway and Wnt’s, both of which have been shown to be critical to follicular re-neogenesis. Just add Fgf-9 which is already produced naturally via signals from the above protein pathways naturally in smaller amounts in human than in mice ( so add more topically/pill route) and you should have hair. Throw in the fact that they’ve already hinted at trials clinically and pre-clinically supposedly being able to completely regenerate new hair, as well the 21st century cares act. The bill only has to be approved by the senate (has already been approved by the house) before going to the White House where the president has already said he will pass into law, and this could be coming sooner rather than later. This is, by far, what I am the most excited for out of all the future “cures” on the horizon.

  12. Additionally, even if the hair that came back wasn’t DHT resistant, you would simply get additional treatments. Every so often in the spots that need it. Until you are old and no longer care about hair. This could absolutely be the cure everyone has been waiting for.

  13. I have used propecia for 14 years, Nizoral for 8, rogaine for 10 months. Propecia lost effectiveness. Rogaine doesn’t seem to be doing much and possibly crushing my hair line. I have no other options. Something needs to come out ASAP! Not taking dut or ru. Don’t want permanent erectile dysfunction man tits or heart failure.

    1. I used Propecia for 4 or 5 years, starting when I was 16/17. Have family history of early onset aggressive baldness on my dads side. I am in my mid twenties now, and have stopped taking it years ago. I feel so much healthier overall off of it than on it, but hair loss has most certainly picked up a ton since I’ve quit. I am a solid NW 4.5/5 right now. As much as I want to get back on it to “save what’s left,” a large part of me can’t convince myself to get back on it because I’m confident we are going to have something in the next 5 years. Finally. If you are looking for a timeline from Follica, I’m afraid you’re not going to get what you want. They are risking a whole lot by saying too much too soon. They are going to have this nearly completely silent until they can unveil to the public and announce that they for certain have the cure. And then the floodgates will open with money and patients like you wouldn’t believe. So there also has to be infrastructure set up to handle that inevitability, and that also costs a whole lot. If they don’t have the infrastructure in place before they unveil/release to the public, the supply will be very unable to meet the demand, especially if this can do what they say it can do. The fact that they are so quiet and have still raised the amount of money they have, along with the tidbits of news we’ve been able to gather; just connect the dots from the news and the collaborators histories and you will see that this company and the premise behind their science is far from dead. Silence speaks huge volumes to what they may have. If you want something “timeline” wise, I suggest wait until November in the 9th world hair congress. Cotsarelis is presenting on the topic “Stem cells and stem cell niches.” Aka stem cells and their interactions/rolls within the hair and the scalp. This should provide more tidbits on where Cotsarelis/Follica is at, as stem cells are one of the key players behind the science of Follica.

      1. Im sorry guys but I must take away from some of your excitement as I am a realist. First off, you talk as if cotsarelis and follica have a superb treatment right now. Just because george tells us that he can grow hair with his stimulant and device means very little. Allow me to ask you this: what is the quality of hairs he is consistently growing and do they continue to grow. You were prob too young to see how hyped the original rogaine was. Everyone thought it was the cure when all it did was slow mpb down (barely) and grew fine wispy hair that was cosmetically irreverent….you guys mention how smart they are by keeping things undercover. Oh really? You havent even seem pics to know if they have anything worth while. George cots has said himself that if he had large funding he could put ouy a better treatment. Dont you think if he had something he would advertise so investors could make him a billionaire on the spot? C’mon guys I want a new treatment as much as anyone but im not fantasizing about something that lacks solid evidence. Guys please dont get me wrong, I like what you guys can bring to the table and im not trying to start a war of words or anything like that. Have a great evening!

        1. I think you’re totally right. Nothing is concrete yet and we shouldn’t put so much hope into Follica only to be let down for the umteenth time. Best to be cautiously optimistic.

        2. You are absolutely right, nothing is concrete. This also could be nothing, but I just have my doubts that this is nothing with everything that’s been in the news. If you had to tell me to hedge a bet on who I think the first successful “cure” to market is I would bet on this technology simply because it doesn’t give a crap about the exact complicated pathway of AGA as it is on their heads today, they are saying screw it and reprogramming the scalp, and I like that approach. Even if it means having to have this done multiple times bc the hair that comes back isn’t androgen resistant over time, I’d consider anything that can take my hair back to my 16 year old hairline a cure.

  14. Having had 2 FUTS which gives me full coverage but on the light density side, does the ADMIN of this site think that recipient areas could benefit from this or would this treatment possibly destroy the transplanted follicles? I’m just looking to add density, and would love to add new hairs between the ones I have for fuller look….

  15. I wonder if this treatment would work for facial hair. I have very little facial hair just slight chin strap which is patchy, no hair on cheeks. This would be great if it could 🙂 Finally solve my hair issues

  16. Quick question about this procedure, since they’re not “reawakening” the old hair follicles on the bald portions of the scalp and instead causing the skin to change to hair follicles…how will this affect the pattern of the new hair growth? Do you think they’ll have control over how densely it grows or how well it matches to the growth patterns on the sides and back?

  17. Watch Cots pull some shit and say we need to complete fda trials and this will be out to market in 10 years lol. Then it only produces rogaine type hairs

  18. This needs to come out in 2016, or one of these stupid hair loss treatments in the pipe because it’s starting to get really annoying and weird. Weird in the essence that I feel someone is really blocking a treatment to hit the market. Not one to believe in conspiracy theories but you can’t blame me for thinking it. I see laser, cream, pills, lotions, etc for acne that work pretty effectively and all we have is rogaine which works for crown but destroys hair lines and propecia which is effective but only 5 to 7 years. They say to start treatment asap to save what you have, which I did but it’s big Pharma turn to play their part and release a effective hsir growth treatment for those of us who started treating early to hold on to what we have since the treatment we used is not effective anymore

  19. Great post! Interesting….. for some odd reason I believe folica will bring something to market quicker than anyone else. You are absolutely right, nothing is concrete.

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