Category Archives: Anthony Atala

Brief Items of Interest, February 2017

Hair loss news first:

Update: Due to several people asking, I contacted Follica about their parent company Puretech’s latest presentation, and they sent me the following disappointing news:

“Hi! There wasn’t any news about Follica presented. The moderator was focused mostly on CNS.”

— In Aclaris Therapeutics’ latest webcast presentation from today (given at the Leerink Partners 6th Annual Global Healthcare Conference), the company’s CEO further elaborated on why they are so optimistic about “highly selective covalently bound JAK 3 inhibitors” helping patients with male pattern hair loss. More importantly, the CEO emphasized treating female hair loss and how that is even more distressing than male hair loss. You can listen to the whole presentation after registration, and also see the 42 slides in there. Main sections are a little after 16:30 minutes into the presentation and later on around 21:30 into the presentation. For once, someone asked a specific question about covalently bound JAK 3 inhibitors and male pattern hair loss. The most interesting quotes from the CEO:

“Most importantly, androgenic alopecia. Even though that’s traditionally not thought of as an inflammatory process, what they were able to find is that the JAK inhibitors were targeting the stem cell compartment in the hair follicle bulge and actually prolonging and inducing anagen”.

“Being covalently bound…its got a much better shot of not being as promiscous as the other JAK inhibitors“.

— Renowned Singapore based venture capitalist Finian Tan is a major investor in Samumed. I did not realize that he made the decision to invest in the company so suddenly. In his own words: “Only twice in my life I have bet so big on day one”. Poker champion, Samumed CEO Dr. Osman Kibar clearly has some hypnotic powers at his disposal.

— More developments in finding the genes behind baldness. On this blog I have covered several other recent such developments, including this interesting one from last year.

— On Hairsite, there is a great question and answer session with Dr. Paul Kemp of HairClone. Dr. Kemp also did the same on here a few months ago.

— After Hairsite’s revamp of its forum into a mobile friendly one late last year, the Hair Transplant Network is planning to do the same to its interesting forum.

— Several times during the past year, I have posted news about various doctors offering an adipose (fat) cell plus platelet-rich plasma (PRP) combo treatment for hair loss. It seems like this treatment was part of a US based clinical trial, but I never did too much research into it. A new article on this pointed me towards the main page for the actual website of the trials. They call it STRAAND , which stands for “Stromal Tissue Cell-enriched treatment of Androgenic Alopecia via Novel Deployment”. So far, six doctors are participating. However, unlike in other trials, it seems like patients are responsible for their own expenses.

— A small sample size new study from Italy on non-activated versus activated PRP and the impact of different PRP collection devices on the final result. Dr. Cole from the US is a co-author.

— Replicel CEO Lee Buckler writes his first article for the Huffington Post: “Will 2017 be the year of Cell Therapies?“.

— Over the years, there have been numerous rumors on hair loss forums that actor Matthew McConaughey has had hair transplants. However, the actor himself has in the past credited a product called Regenix for his great hair. Mr. McConaughey recently went on the “Live with Kelly” show in the US and credited Regenix yet again with a great review. I have no idea about the ingredients of Regenix since they are proprietary, but the manufacturer claims they are all-natural. More on this story here.

Jimmy Lewin recently shaved his head and apparently its a big deal.

And now on to medical items of interest:

US patent office hands win in CRISPR battle to Broad Institute and Dr. Feng Zhang.

Human gene editing receives US science panels support. If you have trouble accessing the site, another take here. One day later, a warning from ethicists.

DARPA: We are on the cusp of merging human and machine.

— From the respected “The Economist” magazine: “Printed human body parts could soon be available for transplant“.

— The long quest to create artificial blood may soon be over.

Trump vows to ease rules and regulations for drug makers.

— The tiny robots revolutionizing eye surgery.

Computer lets fully paralyzed patients speak for the first time.

— A lengthy article on Dr. Anthony Atala, with many photos

— First human-pig chimeras created.

— New study that provides further evidence of caloric restriction and longevity.

3D Printed Hair Update

Within the world of 3D printing, by far the most exciting developments to look forward to are those involving 3D printing of human body parts (more accurately known as 3D bioprinting).  Even after reading about this for a few years now and watching many videos on the subject, it still seems like science fiction to me. However, this is definitely not fiction, and the basic technology has already existed and been used in people for over a decade.  Dr. Anthony Atala (a pioneer in this field who I have mentioned a few times on this blog before) has two extremely popular TED Talk videos on this subject from 2010 and 2011  that you can view if you scroll to the bottom of this page.  Dr. Atala’s work was also well covered in this article from just a few months ago.

Much of the work entailing 3D printing of organs thus far involves a combination of printing cells plus biomaterials.  When it comes to 3D printing of hair follicles, all the work thus far seems to focus on the use of synthetic materials rather than actual cells, although I am not certain about this biology behind this. We are still not close to being able to implant such 3D printed hair into the scalp as far as I can tell.  Nevertheless, this subject is still fascinating.  Here is a video from last last year on this subject along with this article that I posted on this blog before.  In the past several months, two news items on 3D printed hair caught my eye.

MIT Media Group’s Cillia: 3D Printed Hair

The first of these was not widely covered, but since it involves researchers from MIT, I give it precedence.  These scientists are part of the MIT Tangible Media Group, led by Dr. Hiroshi Ishii, and their project is called Cillia.  Note that they do not discuss the human scalp whatsoever, and they are using bitmap technology to print this hair rather than any kind of actual cells.  For the scientists among you, Dr. Ishii and his team’s paper on this subject is probably extremely interesting.  I only glanced through it due to time constraints.

The futurism website has a much more detailed article on the subject, although I laughed when I read this quote:

“While there are a number of potential aesthetic purposes, customized paint brushes or strong adhesive surfaces might be at the top of people’s lists on what 3D printed hair could be used for.”

I would guess the exact opposite.  The aesthetic purposes will be far more important from a commercial perspective.  Or maybe I am just underestimating the market for paint brushes and adhesive surfaces?

Cesare Ragazzi

Italian company Cesare Ragazzi Laboratories has received tremendous publicity over the past several months, even thought its technology was already shown in a 2014 video on the company’s youtube channel:

Perhaps they have since improved upon their methodology even further?  In any case, here is a NY Daily News article from March where I first read about the company.  Their work was even covered on 3dprint.com earlier this year.  The company’s technology is essentially an attempt at making a much better wig/hairpiece/hair system/toupee than anything that is in existence today, with far less expensive and less frequent maintenance requirements, plus a better individualized fit (scalp mapping).  The technology is based on CNC systems that are being sold around the world by Cesare Ragazzi.