Category Archives: Aclaris Therapeutics

Aclaris Therapeutics Raises $20 Million for Alopecia Research

When it comes to the subject of JAK inhibitors and androgenic alopecia, commentator “nasa_rs” is always ahead of the curve and keeps adding tremendous value to this blog for which I am grateful. My taking time off my regular daytime work and writing this post is due to his comments from earlier today to my last blog post.

Just a few hours ago, it was announced that Aclaris Therpeutics had raised around $20 million from a private stock sale.  Main item of interest:

Net proceeds from this offering are expected to be used to fund research and development, including new JAK inhibitor programs for androgenetic alopecia (also known as male or female pattern baldness) and vitiligo, as well as ongoing business development.

One more article on this development.

If you have not done so already, you should do a search on “JAK inhibitors” in this blog and read all the past posts on the subject.  The two biggest news stories of the year in 2014 both entailed different JAK inhibitors curing alopecia areata (which is a type of patchy scalp hair loss that affects <5 percent of people).

Will JAK Inhibitors work for Androgenetic Alopecia?

Ever since then, we have had some conflicting opinions from experts on whether JAK inhibitors will also cure androgenic alopecia, by far the most common (>95 percent) form of baldness.  The two leading researchers in this field, Dr. Brett King and Dr. Angela Christiano, have both been somewhat optimistic about this potential. Moreover, my recent post from March provides further reason for optimism.  It says a lot about my obsessiveness or whatever you want to call it that I got so much joy in bolding the text “androgenic alopecia” in that March post, and now again in this post.

In any event, I am still 50/50 about the potential for JAK inhibitors to cure androgenic alopecia.  However, raising $20 million in one go is no joke in the hair loss industry, especially since there is no evidence provided by Aclaris as yet that JAK inhibitors can really cure male pattern hair loss. I am even unsure if they can consistently cure/reverse vitiligo.

Several years ago, when Histogen raised $10 million (for a technology that they had already proven with many years of research behind it), it was touted to be a big deal.

This is a much bigger deal.

Further reading: Mr. Neal Walker, CEO of Aclaris Therapeutics.

So JAK Inhibitors Could yet Still Cure AGA?

After my relatively long break, I had a lengthy post planned for today, but need to delay it due to a potentially great new development.

Summary of the Recent Past

In 2014, the biggest news in the hair loss world involved two separate developments related to two different JAK inhibitors (Ruxolitinib and Tofacitinib — search for both on this blog’s “Categories” menu as there are numerous posts on them) curing alopecia areata.  While those developments were incredibly exciting and groundbreaking, unfortunately the vast majority (>95 percent) of balding men and women suffer from androgenic alopecia (AGA) rather than alopecia areata (AA).  However, in 2014, Dr. Brett King did suggest that there was a possibility that JAK inhibitors could also cure androgenic alopecia during his interview with Spencer Kobren. In my own analysis, I have always stated that for many androgen related hair loss sufferers, perhaps there is also an inflammatory component (hence the increased itching and dandruff) and such cases could benefit from JAK inhibitors.

Thereafter, there was no news on this potential cure for AGA for a while, until in 2015 the one and only Dr. Angela Christiano posted results (albeit in mice) that suggested that JAK inhibitors could treat androgenic alopecia.  A must read post.  Moreover, this could occur via a topical (as opposed to oral) formulation of the two main candidate drugs: Ruxolitinib and Tofacitinib!

Thereafter, silence yet again for a long time.  Even worse, Christopher1 on hairsite stated that JAK inhibitors did not cure his androgenic alopecia.  He seems like a very reliable forum member over there so I was disappointed. However, the one good thing is that we do not know how accurately people are using JAK inhibitors at the moment since some are using off-label products, some are going to inexperienced physicians, some are trying topical experiments etc… so I still had some hope.  In any event, please be aware of the risks involved in these experiments and do not try them yourself.  Always see a physician before trying any drug to treat hair loss.

Thereafter, further contributing to the bipolar disorder and mood swings, on March 5 2016, a commentator named “Rick” posted an interesting comment on this blog that was largely ignored (and I am very surprised at this).  Although I hate to trust any one such commentator (especially in this particular case since he is also using Minoxidil as part of his treatment), I will still paste his comment below since it was missed by so many blog readers:

Just want you all to know that I have had very good success. With using tofacitinib 30% mixed with minoxidil. I have been doing this process topically for 3 months and have achieved full follicle growth! I will update you more in 30 days. And yes that is for male pattern baldness.

Perhaps “nasa_rs” has influenced me too much and I am looking for any positive signs?

Today

In any event the whole reason for this post is that today came news that Aclaris Therapeutics was buying Vixen Pharmaceuticals (Dr. Angela Christiano and Columbia University affiliated company).  See Form 8-K here.  At first, when I read a one paragraph news alert summary of this acquisition, I did not think much of this development since I had been to Aclaris’ website in the past and remember reading that they only deal with Alopecia Areata related drugs.

However, I then read a lengthier article about this latest acquisition and some things (see below in red font) clearly stood out:

“As a result of this transaction, Aclaris acquired worldwide rights to intellectual property licensed to Vixen by Columbia University covering the use of certain Janus Kinase (JAK) inhibitor compounds for the treatment of alopecia areata, androgenetic alopecia and other dermatological conditions.”

“The acquisition of the Vixen intellectual property and the licensed JAKPharm and Key Organics compounds solidifies Aclaris’ presence in the JAK inhibitor space and allows us to broaden our focus in hair loss to include androgenetic alopecia, often referred to as female or male pattern baldness,” said Neal Walker, President and Chief Executive Officer of Aclaris. [HT: Commentator Julian for pointing out that Mr. Walker is also CEO of Follica].

“We are delighted to enter into this agreement with Aclaris for the development of JAK inhibitors for alopecia areata, androgenetic alopecia, and other hair loss disorders,” said Dr. Christiano.”

In conclusion, welcome back nasa_rs.