Aclaris Therapeutics and Mechanism of Action

March 2019

In March of 2019, Dr. Angela Christiano’s Columbia University based lab’s Twitter account posted the following:

Etienne Wang's Thesis

In recent years, the Christiano-led Columbia team have published a number of important papers related to JAK inhibitors, JAK-STAT signaling and hair growth. Since I have covered their work many times on this blog, I did not pay much attention to this latest paper. I was also not too keen to yet again research dry subjects such as TREM2+ dermal macrophages, oncostatin and JAK-STAT5 activation.

I am also a bit wary of covering JAK inhibitors too often. Largely due to the slow pace of progress in JAK inhibitor trials for androgenetic alopecia, led by US-based Aclaris Therapeutics. Moreover, technical posts on scientific research papers are not well received by most readers except for the most scientifically minded ones.

May 2019

Aclaris JAK Inhibitor Mechanism of Action

In May of 2019, I outreached to Aclaris Therapeutics to ask them about the progress in their JAK inhibitor trials for male pattern hair loss. In the past, they never replied. However, this time, one of their vice presidents got back to me immediately with the following response:

“Stay tuned. Data in May/June. New MOA postulated In attached paper.”

MOA means “Mechanism of Action”.

Lo and behold, the Aclaris VP had attached the previously discussed Ettiene Wang et. al’s full thesis paper titled:

“A Subset of TREM2+ Dermal Macrophages Secretes Oncostatin M to Maintain Hair Follicle Stem Cell Quiescence and Inhibit Hair Growth.”

June 2019

Last week, Aclaris Therapeutics’s CEO Dr. Neal Walker presented at the annual Jefferies 2019 Healthcare Conference in New York. I used to cover these presentations regularly. The full presentation can be found here.

On page 28, they discuss a new mechanism of action in understanding how JAK inhibitors could help patients with androgenetic alopecia (AGA). In brief, the administration of a JAK inhibitor will turn STAT5 to the OFF position. This in turn promotes hair follicle stem cell activation, and subsequent hair growth.

For some reason, the Aclaris PowerPoint slide’s reference is to Dalessandri, T and Kasper, M., who in turn refer to the Wang paper I discussed earlier.

“TREMendous Macrophages Inhibit Hair Growth”.

Aclaris Topical ATI-50002 JAK Inhibitor Trials

According to the Aclaris vice president who emailed me in May:

The 6-month results from the Phase 2 open-label 31-patient ATI-50002 clinical trial will be finalized during the second quarter of 2019. 12-month data are expected in the fourth quarter of 2019. If the results from this trial are positive, Aclaris expects to initiate an additional Phase 2 trial in the first half of 2020. Note that they sometimes refer to ATI-50002 as ATI-502.

The above information was essentially confirmed in the latest June Aclaris Investor Presentation audio. Best case scenario is that Phase 3 trials will start in 2020.

Polichem Topical Finasteride Phase 3 Results Out

Update: June 6, 2019

It seems like P-3074 will be called ALM12845 when finally released. Per Almirall’s first quarter 2019 filings:

“The top-line Phase III results for ALM12845 (androgenic alopecia) in the EU show statistical significance for the primary end-point (Change of Target Area Hair Count) at week 24. We expect the submission in Europe of ALM12845 in Q4 2019.”

My guess is that a “submission” in Europe means the same as in the US: i.e., the company is filing for approval to sell the new drug after successful Phase 3 trial completion.

Polichem Almirall

April 19, 2019

I have covered topical finasteride (see archives) on this blog numerous different times. This despite the fact that I am far more interested in topical dutasteride.

Polichem — Topical Finasteride Phase 3 Trial Results

Earlier today, Switzerland-based Polichem (now owned by Spain’s Almirall) finally released the results of its Phase 3 trials for its eagerly awaited P-3074 topical finasteride product. This came after many months of anticipation (h/t to the guy who e-mailed me this news).

Edit: It seems like they released results in the EU last month, in a slightly different format to the US ones from today. I never wrote about this important development last month.

From what I can tell, both oral finasteride (105 test patients) and topical finasteride (48 test patients) seem to have given almost the same  results in increase in hair growth after 24 weeks.

Side effects between oral and topical finasteride also seem similar, although they are based on surveys of the patients rather than any scientific methodology.

I suppose many volunteers would drop out if they were asked to come in every couple of months for testing of erectile strength, hormonal blood tests, sperm count and so on. As it is, even in these trials, around 30 percent of subjects dropped out before the 24 weeks were over.

Most studies from the past several decades suggest very limited potential for long-term side effects from oral finasteride. If you do not believe those studies, you could still try out topical finasteride (available at most local compounding pharmacies).

No idea if Polichem will commercialize P-3074.

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