Category Archives: Confluence Life Sciences

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:-)