Category Archives: Cyclosporine

Aneira Pharma gets $25 million from Valkyrie Group

A new hair loss company named Aneira Pharma has come to my attention thanks to reader “James”.

Aneira PharmaSeveral days ago, it was announced that Valkyrie Group will invest $25 million in Aneira Pharma. This is a substantial amount of money to invest in a hair loss startup. For comparison, RIKEN is only asking for $4.8 million and has already been conducting hair loss research for several decades.

Update: Valkyrie’s CEO answered some questions in the comments.

Valkyrie’s news page also has this story. The before and after photos on Aneira’s site are very impressive for a topical hair loss product. Besides increased hair growth, the topical also darkens hair. The current name for this product is ANR-001. Aneira has yet to start Phase 1 clinical trials in humans. However, based on the likely already-in-use ingredients in its hair loss product, I am hoping that future trials can proceed fast.

Aneira Pharma’s Hair Loss Patent

One of the members of our hair loss chat found the likely patent behind Aneira Pharma’s hair loss product. The inventor, John Wurst, is also Aneira’s founder, president and CEO. The patent was published in February 2021.

Among the extensive list of ingredients listed in the patent, the most frequently mentioned ones that will likely be in the product include:

  • Prostaglandin analogues, with Latanoprost being a certainty. Also possibly included will be Travoprost. Make sure to see my past posts on Bimatoprost, which caused a lot of excitement in the hair loss world a few years ago. Latanoprost and Travoprost are examples of prostaglandin F2α analogs. Bimatoprost is a prostamide F2α analog. All three of these products are used to treat glaucoma and reduce pressure in the eye. Bimatoprost (via the brand Latisse) has also been widely used in the cosmetic world to make eyelashes grow longer. Interestingly, John Wurst served as lead patent attorney for Latisse and other hair growth products in the past.
Latanoprost for Hair Growth
Latanoprost for hair loss presentation at the EHRS Conference in 2018.
  • Cyclosporine. See my past posts on Cyclosporine as well as on WAY-316606. A company named Rivertown Therapeutics was also using Cyclosporine in its hair loss product, but ended up shutting down last year.
  • Minoxidil. See my post on how Minoxidil works to treat hair loss. As of 2021, Minoxidil is still one of only two drugs ever approved by the US FDA to treat male and female pattern hair loss. With the other being Finasteride.

Interestingly, Aneira’s product will also increase the hair’s melanin content.

The word “Finasteride” also makes a number of appearances in the earlier mentioned patent. I hope they add topical finasteride into the mix too.

WAY-316606 for Hair Loss

Update: September 16,  2020 — WAY-316606 is a novel SFRP1 antagonist. It inhibits catagen phase progression in human hair follicles. This new study is co-authored by scientists affiliated with Monasterium Laboratory (Germany) and Giuliani S.p.A (Italy).

WAY-316606 Hair Loss Drug
WAY-316606 for Hair Loss. Source: PLOS.


May 8, 2018

Cyclosporine A to WAY-316606

A new hair related study from the UK’s University of Manchester has been making global news today as a potential cure for baldness. The paper is titled: “Identifying novel strategies for treating human hair loss disorders: Cyclosporine A suppresses the Wnt inhibitor, SFRP1, in the dermal papilla of human scalp hair follicles.” The paper was released in in the open access journal “PLOS Biology”.

Note that despite the title of the study, the main subject matter is not Cyclosporine A (CsA), but rather, an unrelated drug called WAY-316606. I will discuss the actual findings of this research in the next section. The lead author is Dr. Nathan Hawkshaw, and one of the co-authors is Dr. Ralf Paus (who I have covered a number of times on this blog in the past). A summary of this latest work can be read here.

Dr. Nathan Hawkshaw
Dr. Nathan Hawkshaw.

For regular readers of this blog, this is not a surprising development. I covered Cyclosporine and hair growth in detail in 2016. It should be noted, however, that past research has focused on Cyclosporine’s anti-inflammatory and autoimmune properties (as is the case with JAK inhibitors). However, this latest research found an alternative mechanism via which Cyclosporine A benefits hair growth.

The researchers, via gene expression analysis, discovered that CsA inhibits a protein called SFRP1, which in turn is responsible for blocking the Wnt pathway and hindering hair growth. Also note that this latest work was conducted on human hair follicles. Most past research has involved mice hair or other mammalian cell culture.

WAY-316606 for Hair Growth

More importantly, this latest research went one crucial step further. The researchers found that an already existing SFRP1 antagonist drug to treat osteoporosis (brittle bones) was several times more effective than CsA at growing hair in humans. This drug is called WAY-316606 and it is used to treat osteoporosis.

Moreover, while CsA has major potential side effects, the same is not true for WAY-316606. Note that while CsA is an immunosupresant, WAY-316606 is a non-immunosppressive, chemically unrelated agent.

Giuliani Pharma

Per the Guardian, Giuliani Pharma of Italy might take this research forward and conduct clinical trials.

According to the BBC:

Project leader Dr Nathan Hawkshaw said it could “make a real difference to people who suffer from hair loss”.

According to the more tabloidy SUN:

Dr. Hawkshaw said “I’m very optimistic it could work. In lab tests, the drug started promoting growth in hair follicles in just two days. We are looking at using it as a topical treatment, a gel or shampoo that could reach the follicle. There are no known side-effects of the bone drug“.

Update: The University of Manchester now has an article on it.

Wnt signaling has been covered at least briefly by me in what must be several dozen blog posts by now. A number of companies are working on curing hair loss by targeting the Wnt pathway, with the most famous of these being Samumed.

Now we have one more name to add to that list.