Several days before I posted about IGF-1 and Follicept on March 30th someone e-mailed me to let me know that there was a new player in town called Follicum. Adding to the confusion is that there is also a much older and much hyped player in the hair world by the name of Follica that I have briefly mentioned in a few posts on this blog (and might cover in more detail in future). I wonder if I can start a company called “Follicle” or if that word is not allowed to be used as a company name?!
Follicum and its FOL-005 Hair Growth Product
Getting back to Follicum, the company is publicly traded and based in Sweden and has an unusual product under development called FOL-005. It is a small peptide designed for hair growth regulation through topical administration. It has a unique proprietary formulation based on a modified part of the endogenous human structural protein osteopontin.
The interesting thing about this product is that it can both inhibit hair growth as well as encourage hair growth. This would enable the drug to be used to reduce excess body hair (hirsutism), as well as to grow scalp hair. I suspect that FOL-005 has some type of anti-androgenic properties.
Because this product has yet to undergo any clinical trials, I was not too keen to write a post about Follicum. However, I found some of the things about this company and its FOL-005 product interesting and therefore changed my mind. For one, the results from pre-clinical trials conducted by contract research organization Dabur Research Foundation (DRF) in India seem to indicate superior results from FOL-005 in comparison to Minoxidil. DRF also conducted similar studies with Minoxidil in the past and seems to be a reputable organization.
I find this whole idea of outsourcing pre-clinical trials quite interesting. It seems like new small-scale western drug producers can now get pre-clinical trials done for cheap in countries such as India. They can then skip expensive and lengthy stage 3 clinical trials by introducing their product in Japan, where there are more favorable regulations. We are finally moving faster.
As far as Follicum goes, there was a recent March 2015 article on the company in Life Science Sweden magazine. Of further note, the company could soon be working with relatively well known hair loss researcher Jennifer Klopper at The University of Lübeck in Germany. And with the The Fraunhofer Research Institution for Marine Biotechnology EMB, also in Lübeck. The University of Lübeck is renowned as one of the world’s topmost institutions when it come to science and medicine. It seems like the city of Lübeck will be one of the world’s many biotech hubs in the coming years.