As always, thanks to commentator “Mike” who regularly seems to find the latest developments with Follica immediately. He notified us of the updated Follica website earlier today in a comment to the last post.
I have covered Follica (a subsidiary of US-based PureTech Health) many time on this blog before in spite of the fact that until recently I was very skeptical about the company (since it was founded ten years ago, but has yet to commercialize its skin perturbation + topical compound technology despite years or supportive evidence). Moreover, some people on hair loss forums have over the years postulated that the company’s technology is basically just glorified Minoxidil, since skin damage allows for greater penetration of Minoxidil. However, the company has never specified what compound it is using, and I highly doubt it is just Minoxidil. In some of their patents they have mentioned various potential ingredients including Minoxidil, but I am too lazy to go through all the links in my past Follica posts at the moment to get the details.
I bolded the words “until recently” above because a few months ago, Follica pleasantly surprised us and announced that it was aiming for a 2018 product release as a best-case scenario.
Now it seems like Follica just made a major upgrade to its previously barren website. Nothing really of major surprise in there, but much better elaboration of the technology with useful photos/product renditions. We already knew that the skin disruption process (which requires great precision and knowhow) would be undertaken at a doctor’s office and the compound application would be the responsibility of the patient at his or her home. Now Follica has provided images of both the in-office and at-home devices. The company will have a smartphone app to monitor progress (Edit: It seems like the app will also be able to measure the accuracy of your dosage via wirelessly communicating with the at-home device).
No information is provided about the costs, but they do discuss re-ordering of the compound, which makes me wonder if this will be a lifelong commitment just like with Minoxidil? Assuming that you do get new hair follicles, how susceptible will they be to the ravages of dihydrotestosterone (DHT), and will taking Finasteride or Dutasteride to reduce DHT levels prevent the need for re-ordering Follica’s compound?
Some key quotes from Follica’s new website:
“We’ve teamed up with leading dermatologists with expertise in hair loss and epithelial stem cell biology to develop a new system aimed at not just improving existing hair growth, but also growing new hair”.
“Our technology is based on a proprietary approach intended to create an “embryonic window” in adult skin, allowing new follicles and new hair to form from epithelial stem cells”.
“Following skin disruption, cells that migrate to help healing are forced to make a decision: Should I make epidermis, or should I make a hair? There is a window of opportunity in which we can potentially push them to choose the latter, and we believe there are multiple biological pathways to target to enhance this outcome. This regenerative effect is called hair follicle neogenesis”.
Dr. George Cotsarelis and his own Hair Loss
Finally, if anyone lives near where Dr. George Cotsarelis (Follica’s co-founder and technology inventor) works in Pennsylvania, it would be good to know if the small bald patch on the back of his head is gone or still there. To see what I mean, check out the below video links that start in the most relevant places. I am very serious and do not mean to belittle Dr. Cotsarelis (and hope he does not mind), but I feel like most people who can fill back a small bald patch on their crown region would always do so if they had the technology at their disposal. Usually, only those who totally shave their heads are comfortable with their hair loss, while those with small bald spots are not. Maybe I am being too judgmental here and Dr. Cotsarelis does not care about his minor hair loss at all? But if he were to suddenly have thick hair at the top/rear of his scalp, I would get even more excited about Follica.
Dr. Cotsarelis has been involved in hair loss research for at least 20 years as far as I can tell, and there is no-one in the world who has been cited in hair loss related magazine articles as much as him. For those who are interested, in some of my past blog posts about Follica, I have discussed and linked to various wounding related patents and studies attributed at least in part to Dr. Cotsarelis.