Category Archives: FAK Inhibitor

Verteporfin Week in the Hair Loss World

April 2, 2023

An encouraging update on Verteporfin and some donor area hair regrowth from Jordan-based Dr. Barghouthi in his interview with the Hair Transplant Network. Still too early to know whether these results are permanent and constantly replicable by other surgeons. And whether any new hair will cycle ok in the long term. But this initiative is really great to see.

Please read my entire original post below for the relevant studies and past videos. It is also possible that FAK inhibitors will be even better than Verteporfin in regrowing hair based on concurrent research findings at the Longaker Lab.

July 24, 2022

It is Verteporfin week in the world of hair loss. More than a year after Stanford’s Longaker Lab findings that Verteporfin injections cause regenerative wound and skin healing in mice. Back then, the news even made it into the NY Times: “Imagine, Surgery Without a Scar.”

Besides the three new recent Verteporfin and hair growth related videos that I mention at the bottom of this post, this week I also got: Verteporfin related emails, blog comments and even a private message on Instagram. I am not as excited as so many people when it comes to the hair regeneration prospects, but this subject is clearly going to remain important in 2022.

Do not Forget FAK Inhibitors

As I mentioned last year in a post, FAK inhibitors might be superior to Verteporfin when it comes to wound healing and hair follicle regeneration. Make sure to also read the comments from Dr. Kellen Chen (one of the FAKI study co-authors) in that post.

See my conversation with one of the Longaker Lab researchers on Twitter in September 2021 regarding both these options. Note that these same scientists (led by Dr. Michael Longaker) published both studies:

Verteporfin and FAK inhibitors both work via the inhibition of the YAP pathway. See part of my conversation with @DrPhil on Discord from last year where he favors the latter over the former:

Verteporfin vs FAK Inhibitor wound healing.
Verteporfin vs FAK Inhibitor wound healing.

Also per Dr. Phil:

“This VS-6062 FAK inhibitor does the same thing as verteporfin, but it inhibits a target which is upstream of YAP. Verteporfin only inhibits YAP, while VS-6062 inhibits FAK (which controls YAP) and also other targets. FAK inhibitors can also be applied topically, with no injections required. Moreover, VS-6062 has already gone through Phase 1 and Phase 2 clinical trials to treat cancer.”

Verteporfin Human Clinical Trials

The biggest reason for all this recent excitement is due to the fact that a hair transplant surgeon is finally testing Verteporfin in his patients. Verteporfin (trade name Visudyne) is already FDA approved for photodynamic therapy to treat various eye problems.

Therefore, many people were wondering why we need to wait for the Longaker Lab to begin their human trials (after their pig trials finish). After all, any surgeon can test it out off-label right now. Luckily, we finally have our wishes fulfilled. See the next section with videos further below.

While I am not optimistic on any kind of hair regrowth in the donor region after graft extraction, I would not be surprised at some improvement in wound healing. i.e., the potential for hair transplants with minimal donor scarring in the future.

However, it should be noted that most FUE hair transplants seem to result in acceptable levels of scarring. On the other, FUT (strip) hair transplant still often have very obvious signs of scarring (e.g., see Elon Musk’s hair transplant). Also see my poll results on FUE versus FUT hair transplants.

Three new Videos on Verteporfin and Hair Growth

  • On June 21, 2022 Hairliciously published a new video on Verteporfin and hair follicle regeneration.
  • On June 22, 2022 Hair Transplant Network published a great interview with Dr. Taleb Barghouthi of the Vertex Hair Clinic in Jordan. He is experimenting with using Verteporfin on his hair transplant patients for one month. If the best case scenario is realized, we would see hair regeneration in the extraction sites and a potentially unlimited donor supply. I am very skeptical, but I liked this interview and Dr. Barghouthi sounds very sincere. Even if the strip or FUE hair transplant scars can be improved via the use of Visudyne, it will be a great achievement. So far,  Dr. Barghouthi has seen a delay in healing from sites injected with Verteporfin. According to the video description, this could mean that the pathway that signals the body to being scarring is  being blocked.
  • On May 17, there was an interesting presentation on verteporfin and its anti-scarring effects by Dr. Heather Talbott (who has conducted years of research on wound healing and scarring). Watch the section between 14 mins and 32 mins in the video.

FAK Inhibitors, Cassiopea and Drew Brees

An interesting week in hair loss news warrants a wide ranging post.

Update: Make sure to read the comments from FAK inhibitor study co-author Dr. Kellen Chen in the comments section of this post.

FAK Inhibitor for Hair Loss

In recent days, a few people discussed this Stanford University research (first posted by “DrPhil”) on our hair loss chat.

FAK Inhibitor Hair Growth
FAK inhibitor skin healing and hair follicle regrowth at 180 days. Source: Nature Communications.

The researchers found that blocking mechanical signaling via FAK (focal adhesion kinase) inhibition promotes regenerative skin healing. Moreover, this restored skin includes hair follicle regrowth in addition to normal collagen fiber architecture. Most importantly, this hair regrowth was shows in both mice and pigs.

This is significant because porcine skin has striking similarities to human skin. The researchers used a pharmacologic inhibitor of FAK (FAKI) called VS-6062. This pharmacologic blockade of mechanical signaling resulted in skin with less scar formation and more hair.

The FAK was delivered to wounded skin using a biodegradable and biocompatible hydrogel scaffold.

Better than Verteporfin?

Per @DrPhil on our chat:

“This VS-6062 FAK inhibitor does the same thing as verteporfin, but it inhibits a target which is upstream of YAP. Verteporfin only inhibits YAP, while VS-6062 inhibits FAK (which controls YAP) and also other targets. FAK inhibitors can also be applied topically, with no injections required. Moreover, VS-6062 has already gone through Phase 1 and Phase 2 clinical trials to treat cancer.”

According the Stanford team, porcine serum FAKI concentrations following local treatment were almost undetectable. In fact they were less than 1% of the maximum tolerated human dose observed in a previous Phase 1 clinical trial. So safety issues are likely to be nonexistent in my opinion.

Interestingly, the earlier verteporfin research was also undertaken at Stanford, via the Longaker Lab.

Cassiopea Topline Results for Female Hair Loss

We are eagerly awaiting Cassiopea (Italy)’s Phase 3 Trials for Breezula for androgenetic alopecia (male pattern hair loss). However, several days ago, the company posted an encouraging update on its Phase 2 proof of concept trial for clascoterone use in female hair loss patients. Clascoterone is a topical androgen receptor inhibitor, and its hair growth benefits are almost certainly going to be greater in men.

The trials encompassed 293 women aged between 18-55. The were split into four groups: 5.0% and 7.5% twice daily application of clascoterone solution; versus twice daily 2% Minoxidil or vehicle. Only the subgroup with women less than 30 years of age receiving twice daily application of 5% clascoterone solution showed statistically significant differences from baseline in total hair count at month 6. No safety issues were detected.

Cassiopea Clascoterone Hair Loss
Cassiopea pipeline for clascoterone to treat hair loss.

Drew Brees Hair Transplant

Drew Brees is a superstar quarterback in American Football (NFL). The 42-year old retired in 2021 after a stellar career. He was also well known for his early hair loss and receding hairline…until this week. Looks like he got a hair transplant with excellent results.

Drew Brees Hair Transplant
Drew Brees hair before and after.

I have discussed numerous other celebrity hair transplant results over the years. Among the most famous athletes who got hair transplants include Wayne Rooney and Brian Urlacher. Possibly also Lebron James.