Category Archives: Stemson Therapeutics

Stemson Therapeutics: Functional Hair Follicles from Stem Cells

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 pertained to a study from 2018 and another study from April 2019 that I already covered several times recently in relation to JAK-STAT signaling. The first of these studies involves a new way of 3D-printing hair. Who knows when it will reach the public, but still worth a read.

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.

Stemson Therapeutics has Arrived

I was wrong.

Perhaps the biggest story of the year is the fact that Stemson Therapeutics is now a reality, and they have officially launched their website. I originally covered this company in October 2018.

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!

Functional Hair Follicles Grown from Stem Cells

Functional hair follicles grown from stem cells.
Functional hair follicles grown from stem cells. Image from Sanford Burnham’s Twitter post.

Earlier today, San Diego based Sanford Burnham Prebys published a what seems to be groundbreaking new article: Functional Hair Follicle Grown from Stem Cells. Note that this research institute is affiliated with Dr. Terskikh. More on their Twitter account.

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.

Actual paper is here. Lead researcher is a Dr. Antonella Pinto.

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.”

Make sure to read about the difference between autologous and allogenic. Also read my past post on person-to-person hair transplants.

Stemson Therapeutics has licensed the above technology from Sanford Burnham.

I hope there are no further major developments in the hair loss world till July 1, as I am about done for this month!

Alexey Terskikh and Stemson Therapeutics

I first covered the groundbreaking work of Sanford Burnham’s Dr. Alexey Terskikh in 2015. Two years later, I interviewed Dr. Terskikh with the help of reader questions. It was a lengthy and highly interesting question and answer session. The doctor’s main issue at the time was funding.

A few months ago, Dr. Teskikh provided an excellent update on his hair loss research. Key quote from that interview:

“Instead of embryonic stem cells, which are difficult to obtain, our method now uses induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC), which are derived from a simple blood draw or skin sample. iPSCs allow us to create an unlimited supply of cells to grow hair. Not having enough hair is one reason current transplants don’t work, so this is a critical advance….We’ve found a solution—3D biodegradable scaffolds—and partnered with leading scientists in the field to advance our project. The scaffold allows us to control the number of cells transplanted, their direction and where they are placed.”

Dr. Terskikh also said that as of 2018, he had formed a company to move this research and technology forward. He did not name the company or the “great team” of experts that he had assembled.

Stemson Therapeutics

Earlier today, a reader by the name of “Gabriel” sent me the below that was posted on Twitter three weeks ago, but missed by most.

No mention of Dr. Alexey Terskikh in there, but….

It seems like Stemson Therapeutics LLC was registered in California in 2017 by Dr. Terskikh! Also, Dr. T is based in La Jolla (San Diego), and the Tweet above also mentions La Jolla.

Note that there is also a Stemson Therapeutics Corporation that is involved in the hair growth sector.

This looks like excellent news, even if it may take a few years before fruition.

Unless Trump issues an executive order that Phase 2 and Phase 3 trials are unnecessary :-)

Although, in this case, if the biological material and lab processes are entirely autologous… maybe portions of human trials can be rushed or skipped?