Category Archives: Neal Walker

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:-)

Jefferies 2016: Dr. Neal Walker Says Topical JAK Inhibiters will be Tested on AGA Patients

Update: Listening to the webcast again (yes it is still available), Dr. Neal Walker clearly states that while systemic JAK inhibitors did not work for androgenetic alopecia, topical JAK inhibitors did work for androgenetic alopecia (and not just for alopecia areata)!  This is huge.  Thanks to commentator “Bob Ross’s Hair” for typing out the exact quote below for us:

We will be developing a topical JAK inhibitor for androgenetic alopecia, and the data on that is quite interesting in that they found that the systemic JAK inhibitor does not work for that particular indication, but the topical does, mainly as a function of the target being more superficial in the skin and not really accessible from a systemic circulation.

The important Jefferies 2016 Healthcare Conference is going on in New York City as I am writing this post.  It started five minutes ago (12pm EST — aka NYC — time).  The CEO of Aclaris Therapeutics, Dr. Neal Walker, is presenting.  You can view it live via registering here.  Or from here.

The best part is that 19 slides are already available to view at the top of the ongoing webcast, and Dr. Walker just mentioned that they are now more confident about JAK inhibiters and will be developing a topical version for androgenic alopecia!!  One more small leap for “nasa_rs”,  but will it finally translate into one giant leap for mankind?

Slide numbers 16 and 17 mention androgenic alopecia.  The key March 2016 acquisition of and partnership with Dr. Angela Christiano’s Vixen Pharmaceuticals (Columbia University IP) is what seems to have spurred the optimism behind developing and testing topical JAK inhibitors on androgenic alopecia patients.  Slide 16 also mentions that they are working on next generation JAK inhibitors called “covalently bound highly selective JAK3 inhibitors.”

Note that those slides and the audio webcast presentation are both supposed to soon be available on Aclaris’ website, but will only remain there for several weeks.