Replicel Says Its Potentially Revolutionary Hair Cloning Technology Passed Its First Safety Test, Market Unimpressed

Replicel Life Sciences, the Vancouver-based biotech start-up, announced May 2 that the first clinical trials of its potentially revolutionary hair cloning technology have been completed and that the results were positive.

Replicel’s hair loss product involves the harvesting of hair cells from a patient’s hair follicles — technically known as autologous dermal sheath cup cells (DSCC) — multiplying them in a laboratory, and then re-injecting the new hair cells in bald areas of the patient’s scalp, like re-seeding a lawn.

The six-month assessment of the technology, the first ever involved human test subjects, was to determine whether the technology was safe so that testing could move on to even larger clinical trials.

There are 19 total test subjects in this trial, nine women and ten men. The researchers found that the injection sites of the participants showed very few signs of bleeding, infections, burning or itching, or the growth of cysts. Instead, the researchers found that the injections of DSCC cells directly into the scalp were well tolerated.

According David Hall, Replicel’s president, the safety findings were essential so the company can proceed with its far more ambitious Phase IIb clinical trials with a larger number of volunteers. Relpicel is currently taking names of people worldwide who might be interested in participating in its next found of clinical testing. (To get more information on these clinical trials, see below.)

The data from this latest assessment also supported the claim that Replicel’s technology is effective as a hair loss product. However, the initial results will no doubt disappoint hair loss sufferers because, while statistically significant, they show only mild hair regrowth. According to the company, total hair density in the areas injected with DSCC cells increased a total of 6.1% from baseline.

More precisely, vellus hair (light whispy hair) density increased approximately 12% and terminal (regular) hair density increased only 3.2%. Company officials, however, were encouraged. Calling the hair growth at DSCC injected areas of the test subjects’ scalps a “significant response,” Darrell Panich, the company vice president, said that RepliCel’s technology fully justified a much larger Phase IIb clinical trial. He added that the new testing will concentrate on “optimum dosing and treatment regimens.”

The announcement of the study’s results does not appear to have helped the company’s stock, however. Relicel Life Sciences (REPCF) was trading around $2.05 a share on May 1 but fell to $1.27 a share at close of trading on May 4 — a loss of 40% in just days.

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