Tag Archives: Follica

ASHRS Chief: Hair Cloning or Hair Multiplication is Coming

The president of the American Society of Hair Restoration Surgery (ASHRS), Dr. Marco Barusco, declared in January that hair cloning is the most important technological advance on the horizon for hair restoration doctors. While hair cloning is not yet available, Dr. Barusco said he is encouraged that various companies are now in Phase II clinical trials and he expects the technique to be available in the next couple years.

Hair cloning is generally considered to be any technique that attempts to harvest hair follicle cells from a patient, multiply them in growth media in a lab, and then use the new cells to “reseed” bald scalps. Dr. Barusco added that hair cloning will make possible transplants for people who couldn’t have them in the past because they lacked a sufficient amount of donor hair. At least four companies are now actively engaged in hair cloning research – RepliCel Life Sciences, Aderans Research, Follica and Dr. Coen Gho’s Hair Science Institute. They differ slightly on which type of cells they harvest and use in their process.

In 2008, hair cloning was in the news because of pioneering trials being conducted by a British company, Intercytex, that subsequently had financial difficulties and was sold. The hair challenged public became discouraged by the frequent delays so that many today believe that hair cloning is all hype and that the technology will never arrive.

However, Dr. Barusco doesn’t feel that way. He is encouraged by the research done so far and by the fact that companies such as Aderans and RepliCel are moving on to Phase II clinical trials of hair cloning with greater numbers of subjects.

Hair cloning is not the same thing as stem cell treatments. Other companies, such as Histogen in San Diego, are attempting to develop products that restore and reactivate existing hair follicles on balding heads that have been, in a sense, shut off. The hope is that a unique combination of special growth factors and cytokines will be able to “wake up” these dormant hair follicles so that they once again produce hair on a regular basis. Histogen’s Hair Stimulating Complex, which is currently in development, will be an injectable treatment performed in a medical clinic under a doctor’s supervision.

Cygenx currently produces a growth factor hair growth serum, which it calls RegenRXx, that is available now as a topical lotion. It is applied either alone or with the aid of a dermaroller.

Researchers: Fibroblast Growth Factor 9 (Fgf9) Key to Growing New Hair Follicles

wash hair

In early June 2013, researchers at Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania announced that they’ve been able to regenerate hair follicles in adult mammals and that the procedure could eventually be used to grow new hair in humans. In a new paper published online in Nature Medicine, the researchers describe in detail the role that fibroblast growth factor 9 (Fgf9), a protein produced by the skin’s immune system, in the formation of new hair follicles.

The paper’s chief author is Dr. George Cotsarelis, MD, the chairman for the Dermatology Department at the Perelman School of Medicine and a co-founder of Follica, a company dedicated to developing new hair loss treatments based on stem cell growth factors.

A number of companies are now marketing hair growth serums based on Human Fibroblast Conditioned Media (HFCM), which contain dozens of specialized proteins, growth factors and cytokines believed to play a crucial role in regenerating dormant hair follicles. One of companies, Cygenx, markets a product called RegenRXx Hair Serum 90 that contains more than a dozen growth factors, including Epidermal growth factor (EGF), Insulin-like growth factor I (IGF-I), Fibroblast growth factor type 5 (FGF5), Transforming growth factor Beta (TGF-B) and Platelet-derived Growth Factor(PDGF)

Human Fibroblast Conditioned Media (HFCM) is a nutrient rich solution composed of growth factors, cytokines, soluble collagen, antioxidants and matrix proteins that are often referred to as “signaling” molecules that are derived from a complex invitro laboratory tissue bioengineering process. All human cells grow, heal and divide by interaction with an array of these growth factors and matrix proteins which maintain cellular and tissue homeostasis.

Dr. Cotsarelis’s research shows that Fgf9 is present in greater quantities in the top layers of skin right before new hair follicles are created. When the researchers artificially reduced the amount of Fgf9, the hair follicles did not develop. The research team believes that a combination of deliberate “wounding” in the scalp — perhaps as minor as a skin prick — combined with the application of the right comnbination of growth factors, such as Fgf9, could lead to the rapid formation of new hair follicles on balding scalps.

“This discovery sheds light on a novel mechanism to regenerate hair follicles and opens an exciting new avenue to develop treatments for hair loss in humans,” said Dr. William Ju of Follica, Inc. “Follica has developed a technology platform that is uniquely suited to support clinical translation of these new findings. The Follica platform can be used to induce skin reepithelialization, which creates a ‘window of opportunity’ during which the Fgf9 pathway could be modulated to potentiate hair neogenesis.”

Translated into English, Dr. Ju appears to be saying that Follica hopes this new research will lead to new hair. Follica has been developing new growth factor treatments but does not yet have a product on the market. Hair loss sufferers have been frustrated by the lack of progress so far. Another company, Histogen, is also developing a new hair loss treatment. The problem with growth factors is scalp penetration. One solution, which the San Diego company Histogen is working on, is to develop a surgical procedure to inject growth factors beneath the skin and more directly into the scalp. The problem with this approach is that it requires FDA approval, will be expensive and is not available right now. In 2012, the company’s CEO presented the preliminary results of the company’s double-blind Phase I/II clinical trial of its Hair Stimulating Complex (HSC) at the International Society of Hair Restoration Surgery (ISHRS) annual meeting in the Bahamas. The title of the paper was, “Scalp Injection of Active Embryonic-like Cell-secreted Proteins and Growth Factors.” The company reported a very favorable 86% response rate from patients tested and an increase in total hair count was substantially above an earlier trial.

For years, researchers have theorized that hair loss is caused by a genetic hyper-sensitivity to the hormone dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a derivative from the male sex hormone testosterone. The theory has been that hair follicles gradually shrink and then die when exposed to large amounts of DHT. As a result, the theory goes, to grow hair faster you simply have to limit the amount of DHT on the scalp. There are a number of highly effective anti-DHT shampoos and conditioners on the market now. For example, DS Laboratories Revita Shampoo and Revita.COR conditioner are popular with women who want to grow hair faster and with men who want to regrow lost hair.

The most exciting development in recent years to grow hair, however, has been the discovery that DHT does not cause hair follicles to die, a previously thought, but only to go asleep. In a sense, therefore, hair follicles hibernate. Scientists have discovered a number of special proteins, known as growth factors, that are like chemical alarm clocks and wake dormant hair follicles back up. These growth factors have been proven to stimulate new hair growth and to grow hair faster. One of the earliest and most popular of these new growth factor serums, made from adult stem cells, is Cygenx’s RegenRXx Growth Factor Serum 90. By flooding hair follicles with these specialized chemical wake-up messages, growth factor serums stimulate the follicles to grow hair — to grow hair faster than normal and to regrow hair where none was growing before.

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Study: Fibroblast Growth Factor 9 (Fgf9) Critical for New Hair Follicles

George Cotsarelis, MD, chair of Dermatology in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, and one of the founders of the hair loss company Follica, has recently published a new study that showed that fibroblast growth factor 9 (Fgf9), a protein produced by a population of cells of the immune system in the skin, is critical for the formation of new hair follicles after disruption of the skin. The discovery could lead to a new approach to regenerate hair follicles in adult mammals which could be used, eventually, in humans.

“This discovery sheds light on a novel mechanism to regenerate hair follicles and opens an exciting new avenue to develop treatments for hair loss in humans,” said Dr. William Ju of Follica, Inc. “Follica has developed a technology platform that is uniquely suited to support clinical translation of these new findings. The Follica platform can be used to induce skin reepithelialization, which creates a “window of opportunity” during which the Fgf9 pathway could be modulated to potentiate hair neogenesis.”

Follica has conducted preclinical testing of proprietary device configurations for skin disruption in combination with a number of known and novel drugs. The company has run a series of human clinical trials, including a Phase IIa trial, which have demonstrated follicular neogenesis in humans for the first time. These trials pave the way for the development of a breakthrough combination of a device to produce targeted skin perturbation coupled with a well-studied drug compound.

“Creating new hair follicles is essential to treating hair loss, and is something that cannot be accomplished by invasive surgical procedures such as hair transplantation or by existing drug treatments that at best simply preserve existing hair,” said Dr. Bernat Olle, Follica Co-founder.

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ASHRS Chief: Hair Cloning or Hair Multiplication is Coming

The president of the American Society of Hair Restoration Surgery (ASHRS), Dr. Marco Barusco, declared in January that hair cloning is the most important technological advance on the horizon for hair restoration doctors. While hair cloning is not yet available, Dr. Barusco said he is encouraged that various companies are now in Phase II clinical trials and he expects the technique to be available in the next couple years.

Hair cloning is generally considered to be any technique that attempts to harvest hair follicle cells from a patient, multiply them in growth media in a lab, and then use the new cells to “reseed” bald scalps. Dr. Barusco added that hair cloning will make possible transplants for people who couldn’t have them in the past because they lacked a sufficient amount of donor hair. At least four companies are now actively engaged in hair cloning research – RepliCel Life Sciences, Aderans Research, Follica and Dr. Coen Gho’s Hair Science Institute. They differ slightly on which type of cells they harvest and use in their process.

In 2008, hair cloning was in the news because of pioneering trials being conducted by a British company, Intercytex, that subsequently had financial difficulties and was sold. The hair challenged public became discouraged by the frequent delays so that many today believe that hair cloning is all hype and that the technology will never arrive.

However, Dr. Barusco doesn’t feel that way. He is encouraged by the research done so far and by the fact that companies such as Aderans and RepliCel are moving on to Phase II clinical trials of hair cloning with greater numbers of subjects.

Hair cloning is not the same thing as stem cell treatments. Other companies, such as Histogen in San Diego, are attempting to develop products that restore and reactivate existing hair follicles on balding heads that have been, in a sense, shut off. The hope is that a unique combination of special growth factors and cytokines will be able to “wake up” these dormant hair follicles so that they once again produce hair on a regular basis. Histogen’s Hair Stimulating Complex, which is currently in development, will be an injectable treatment performed in a medical clinic under a doctor’s supervision.

Cygenx currently produces a growth factor hair growth serum, which it calls RegenRXx, that is available now as a topical lotion. It is applied either alone or with the aid of a dermaroller.

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The Shocking Truth About Follica’s Hair Follicle Neogenesis

Follica (not to be confused with the hair products store Folica) is a research and development company specializing in epithelial stem cell regenerative biology. These techniques came about because of the years of scientific breakthrough documented by Cheng-Ming Chuong in 2007.

Founded in 2006, Follica is a subsidiary of Pure Tech Ventures in Boston, Ma. Pure Tech Ventures is an investment firm identifying scientific breakthroughs and supporting the research in order to develop new biotech methodologies for medical applications.

Dr. Chuong’s research originally focused on ways to help heal severe wounds from battle to burns. In his lab, he had experimented with several techniques designed to heal deep wounds that went below the epidermis and were splayed open. After years of almost successes, he used a technique discovered by other researchers that showed regeneration of hair follicles. He had no particular reason to believe that such methodology would be successful in his study but expected that he would be able to eliminate one more route.

As is true in nearly all cases, scientists do not operate in a vacuum and attempt new concepts without some stimulus from another research preceding it. In this case, Dr. George Cotsarelis used Dr. Chuong’s information and redirected his own interests. Dr. Cotsarelis discovered that traumatic disruption of the skin under certain circumstances is able to regenerate spontaneously.
In the 50s and 60s, there were sporadic reports of this self-regeneration connected with wound healing during the Korean War and after. With the lack of knowledge on the part of the scientific community about molecular biological structures, about the genetic composition of all life, and the existence of stem cells, the incident reports were shelved.

In the interim, science has caught up with the nature of biological structuring. With nanotechnology on the rise, many new identifiers are being shared across the scientific world. Dr. George Cotsarelis was able to demonstrate manipulative techniques that worked consistently to regenerate hair growth in damaged skin.

By manipulating the key signaling pathways that communicate follicle formation, Dr. Cotsarelis and Dr. Chuong were able to prove what until then had been no more than a theory. There are several pathways and several methods of manipulation that have been discovered. Some companies are using drug compounds in order to wake up sleeping stem cells within the fatty layer of tissue beneath the skin. Follica is taking a different approach. Instead of regeneration, Follica is researching multiple schemes of neogenesis – regenerating hair and skin cells where none exists.

Rather than waking dormant cells that are present, Follica is studying methods of developing new cells that had previously been destroyed. One of the newest patents that Follica has applied for includes Lithium treatments there have been research studies over the last 25 – 30 years that reveal a specific form of lithium when used in treatments for skin regeneration have shown a modicum of success. Whether this is what Follica is doing with their patent is not able to be confirmed.

Rather than referring to Follica as hair regeneration, it should be called by the term Dr. Chuong applied to it 2009 – hair engineering. This method focuses on morphogenesis – the study of how cells are assembled into functional forms. It is through this basic understanding of cell formation and assignment of what those cells are designed to do leads to a more complete understanding of how skin cells and hair follicles are able to regenerate on their own.

One of the most important discoveries by Dr. Chuong was that by tuning the balanced activity of a molecular pathway, it becomes possible to alter the shape, size and number of the ectodermal organs … skin cells.

Another exciting development in the research resulting from studies in hair loss regeneration involves the understanding of the cells in the fat layer of the skin. This research was reported by Yale University in the fall of 2011. What these researchers discovered was that without fat cells hair will not grow. Prior to this study, little credit was given to fat cells beyond the need to regulate body heat systems. The study has yet to go as far as to confirm that this could be the key to a cure for baldness but hopes in medical endocrinology are high that it will lead to a cure. This Yale Study did emphasize that this is not related to genetic causes for hair loss to their knowledge. It may lead to an understanding in how wounds heal or tumors grow.

Helping people through researching the many ways in which cells interrelate is the current focus of Follica’s mission. In the future, Follica is planning on production of several trademarked products, which are currently undergoing human testing in Asia. A surprising result of this cellular research being done worldwide includes the discovery that loss of hair in the ear, possibly related to some forms of baldness, is connected to hearing loss. Growing hair stem cells in cochlea material could lead to hair regeneration and reversal of baldness.

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