I have covered Stemson Therapeutics (San Diego, USA) and its founder Alexey Terskikh (see interview) since 2015. My last post on the company was updated in 2020 when they raised $7.5 million from Fortunis Capital and Allergan.
Stemson Therapeutics’ CEO is Geoff Hamilton. In July 2021, he wrote an interesting post on Linkedin titled “Stemson Therapeutics is working to make hair loss a problem of the past.” It was interesting to read about the origin of the name “Stemson” (portmanteau of “Stem” and “Samson”).
Per Mr. Hamilton, curing hair loss is inordinately complex and will involve a multi-disciplinary approach, including:
Machine learning and analysis of biological data.
Robotic transplantation solutions.
In a recent article, Dr. Cenk Sumen (Stemson’s Chief Technology Officer) discussed other difficulties. He stated that companies such as Stemson that are working on induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) therapies face problems getting tailored equipment for automation.
Earlier today, San Diego based “Market Podcast” published an interview with Mr. Hamilton on YouTube. Thanks to reader “Jan Miedza” for notifying us and even posting the first comment to that video.
From the interview, it is clear that Stemson is still years away from getting a product to market. They are yet to even start human clinical trials. However, the company is professional, well funded and supported by biopharmaceutical industry behemoth AbbVie. They have hired world class scientists, bioengineers, bioinformaticians and more.
Moreover, Dr. Terskikh’s research has already been going on for over a decade (including in Russia). Also of note, Dr. Hamilton mentions several times how biotechnology and stem cell research today is significantly ahead of where it was just a decade ago. His company’s progress is benefitting from these recent technological advances.
I have covered either Stemson Therapeutics or its founder Dr. Alexey Terskikh at least once a year since 2015. I consider this company to be among the most likely ones in the world to develop a hair loss cure.
Update: Stemson just got another $7.5 million in funding from Allergan and Fortunis Capital. h/t reader “James”. Quote from the CEO of Fortunis:
“Stemson’s novel cell therapy approach to treat hair loss has game-changing potential.”
CEO Geoff Hamilton said the following:
“Stemson has established the biological and technical building blocks which are needed to solve the problem of hair loss. A truly curative solution is now feasible.”
We have heard similar praise from a number of other company CEOs during the past decade. So no use in getting hopes raised this early in the process.
This patent (No. 10716808) is titled “Methods and compositions to modulate hair growth”. The technology is licensed exclusively from the Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute.
The process outlined in this patent entails a novel process to differentiate Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells (iPSC) into dermal papilla cells (DPCs). The latter cells control hair follicle generation and hair cycling.
Considering that Stemson is yet to even start human clinical trials, I do not expect this product to come to market any time soon. However, the scientific research behind this company’s technology seems to be solid, and the company itself is well funded (see further below).
On the company’s news page, last week they announced the hiring of Dr. Meghan Samberg as Vice President of R&D and Preclinical Development.
June 27, 2019
During the last 30 days, we have received positive updates from: Aclaris Therapeutics; Dr. Lowry (new company Pelage Pharmaceuticals); Follica; Polichem; and Shiseido.
We also had a positive story from Columbia University (Dr. Angela Christiano) this week that I did not cover. It pertain to past research on JAK-STAT signaling and hair regrowth. I did not think that we could have a more inspiring month than we have just had in the world of hair loss cure research.
I have covered the co-founder of Stemson Therapeutics, Dr. Alexey Terskikh, numerous times in the past. He kindly gave me an interview in 2017, in which he mentioned that the biggest thing holding them back was lack of sufficient funding.
I have asked Dr. Terskikh to give us another interview soon and hopefully he will accept. Earlier this month, he told me that his lab was given a podium presentation at the ISSCR conference on June 27th, and were about to launch their new website around the same time. However, he did not mention the below surprising development.
The breakthrough is because scientists from Sanford Burnham have created natural-looking hair that grows through the skin using human induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs). According to the article, this “could revolutionize the hair growth industry”.
Unlike in past experiments where new hair growth was underneath the skin, haphazard, and disorderly, the current results produced hair growing above the skin in a uniform pattern. The breakthrough was achieved by using a biodegradable 3D scaffold that guided hair growth through the skin in its preferred direction.
The current protocol is based on mouse epithelial cells combined with human dermal papilla cells. However, the derivation of the epithelial part of a hair follicle from human iPSCs is currently underway in the Terskikh lab. Key quote from the article from today:
“Combined human iPSC-derived epithelial and dermal papilla cells will enable the generation of entirely human hair follicles, ready for allogenic transplantation in humans.”