New Fundraising for Hair-Raising: Follica Takes in $11 Million for Baldness-Treatment Approach

8/12/08Follow @bbuderi

If only hair could grow as fast as Follica’s pot of money. Just seven months after its $5.5 million Series A financing round, the Boston-based startup today announced it has raised an additional $11 million to bolster its efforts to develop new methods of treating male- and female-pattern baldness and other hair-follicle disorders such as excessive hair growth and acne. Follica, which confirmed a human pilot study of its hair-regeneration technique is underway, also added several new team members, including veteran life sciences and biotech executive G. Kirk Raab, former CEO of Genentech, who joined the company’s board as chairman.

The Series B round was led by Polaris Venture Partners of Waltham, MA (Polaris partner Kevin Bitterman also took a seat on the board), and joined by existing investors Interwest Partners of Dallas and Menlo Park, CA, (which led the Series A round); and founding investor PureTech Ventures, in whose offices Follica is headquartered.

Follica’s main initial focus is developing a treatment for the extremely common form of hair loss called androgenic alopecia—better known as male pattern baldness or female pattern baldness. “This financing will enable us to build out the company and move well down the path towards [regulatory] approval,” says Daphne Zohar, managing director of PureTech Ventures (and an Xconomist). “Our research has been progressing in a very positive way. We have had significant interest from the venture community and while we just closed the Series A round a few months ago, and weren’t planning on bringing in more money for a couple of years, we recognize that additional funds enable us to move more quickly. We have worked with Polaris before and they have been a great partner to us which is why we accelerated the Series B round.” Zohar added that Follica is in the process of transitioning to its own office space, and that it already has independent lab space.

My story about Follica’s debut last January and its quest for a baldness cure sparked a long-running (440 comments and counting as of this writing) conversation among the startup’s would-be customers that’s still quite lively all these months later. This highlights the intense interest in—and vast potential market for—an effective treatment for hair loss. Follica, for its part, claims treatments for conditions of the follicle represent a $10 billion-plus annual market. As Zohar said of the general field of aesthetic medicine back in January: “There’s huge markets, and most of the technologies and things that are out there don’t come from real academic science. A lot of them are this late-night infomercial type of thing.”

Aiming to inject some credible science into the field, Follica was formed in late 2006 by PureTech and a roster of leading researchers that includes University of Pennsylvania stem cell biologist George Cotsarelis, Harvard Medical School dermatologist Rox Anderson, and Vera Price, director of the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) Hair Research Center. As part of today’s announcement, Follica said it has bolstered this scientific firepower with the addition to its scientific advisory board of Samir Mitragotri, an expert in transdermal drug delivery at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

At the root of Follica’s approach to hair loss is Cotsarelis’s discovery (made after the company was formed) that when the skin’s uppermost layers are removed some cells within the wound revert to a more basic state from which they can develop into either skin or hair—and that he could actually direct cells in this “embryonic window” to form new … Next Page »

Bob is Xconomy's founder and editor in chief. You can e-mail him at bbuderi@xconomy.com, call him at 617.500.5926. Follow @bbuderi

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  • J

    so nobody really cares about the method….we just care about when????? WHEN???? who is going to come out with the first viable treatment?? does anybody have a better outlook on who it will be? any thoughts?? predictions??

  • Artista

    J, of course everybody CARES about the treatment aspect as well. You must remember that in todays medical technology ,there are quite a few different and viable treatment possibilities now. We are here ,as the balding web/blogsites are,to monitor the developments and educate ourselves. You will find it to be a quite exciting period of time for this medical arena. NOT ONLY for hair, but for many many other health related issues. Imagine the time when they will be able to actually multiply your OWN kidney if need be.

  • WASHINGTON

    ONE MORE TIME ……http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y3K_Cujghwg >>>>>> video about Hair Restoration using Your Own Fat Stem Cells … some idea???

  • Artista

    Washington, In regards to that vid’, read the comment made by ‘Sinterdesin’. Not saying he is on to something but take a look at the before and after pics after reading his comment

  • James

    Well tuns out Aderans have only just started phase II so heres to the waiting game:

    http://www.aderansresearch.com/pdfs/PR_04_24.pdf

  • bill123

    keep your fingers crossed for ARI phase 2 guys. this is it. this is the big one….

  • James

    Considering Intercytex roling phase II study, i would not get my hopes up on the data, or conclusion of Aderans Research, to be until April 2011.

    There method potentially does more than Intercytex due to the 2 cell process versus thre one cell process, but the real deal is in the progression of proto hairs, which are in preclinical trials

    Good News is, when i search back through News Archives and Online Journals, Bald men have never ahd so much science in there favour, i mean if your 20, losing hair, by 30 you might not have to worry anymore.

  • ZZ

    The aderans Phase II clinical trial, according to Washenik, “is expected to be completed by the end of the year”. This is a February quote from the following link http://www.bestlifeonline.com/cms/publish/health/The-New-Science-of-Hair-Growth_3.php. They already have the format. It takes 6-8 weeks to for the hair cells to multiply and then they inject the cells into the scalp. So I would think that in 4-6 months they would certainly know something. Whether they tell us right away is a different story. But if results are positive I would bet we hear something a lot quicker.

  • Shooter

    Sounds like this is Aderans’ big chance. Intercytex had theirs and failed, now it’s time for ARI to give it a shot. Here’s to hoping…

    Follica? Mercola? Whitfield? Anyone?

  • OS

    After not coming here for about 3 monts i had to come, and say: Follica=Shit :)
    gl to the rest of you baldies, we are gonna have a rough ride, as i mentioned before, at least our children will enjoy a treatment (and thats a BIG *maybe* for them aswell)

  • J

    Are you kidding?? with all the people working on this and all they know…we should have a treatment within a couple years I would have to believe…What was the video posted above with fat and stem cells..I mean come on already…I dont wanna hear anymore doom and gloom!! Lets hear positive things and good news…what do we got? anyone??? what do we have to look forward to in the near future 1-3yrs any treatment?

  • D

    that’s if the human race still exists a couple years from now..wtf swine flu epidemic :S

  • JoJo

    a treatment within a couple years ? … J, are you an idiot ?

  • Artista

    ZZ is correct. By the Fall season we will know something substantial from Aderans phase2. Shoooter, who told you the Intercytex failed? Their still in ongoing research. Have you not seen Intercytex’ latest phase2 pics?
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    WASHINGTON added this ~~4/23/09 2:10 pm
    Intercytex, a public company based in London, may be closest to a marketable product, says Jerry Cooley, MD, a transplant surgeon who has been consulting for the firm since 2001. Nobody directly employed by Intercytex would speak to me for this story. “We do not feel that exposure of our research is helpful,” wrote Jeff Teumer, Intercytex’s director of research, in a curt e-mail. But Dr. Cooley, who works closely with Teumer, tells me that Intercytex scientists have successfully grown large batches of cloned proto-hairs similar to those that other researchers have been struggling to keep alive. What’s more, in animal experiments, the Intercytex team has observed cloned hair follicles growing hair again after the original hairs were plucked. This suggests that their cloned follicles cycle through the entire life span of hair three phases known as anagen (growth), catagen (transitional), and telogen (resting) something no other researchers have been able to do
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    guess i couldve told you to scroll up.
    Also,,Follica=shit????
    Hey guys,,whats with all the ‘doom and gloom’ and the name calling?
    It seems people here get frustrated and lashing out. Take deep breaths, stretch ,,shake it off. We are at a new phase in 21st century hair research guys. REAL medical science, for the ones doing the research KNOW that they are onto something REAL. Not like in the past.schemers AND snakeoil salesmen that would work on peoples sensitivities. That era is slowly coming to an end. Avacor and all the rest. You have salesmen in the HT field you still need to look out for too. check it out
    http://www.baldingblog.com/2009/04/24/even-today-the-quality-of-hair-transplant-work-can-be-less-than-marginal-with-photos/

  • Dave

    I think Intercytex has a new friend!
    It’s not about hair loss, but positive news nonetheless.

    http://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/news/business/s/1112018_pfizer_fillip_for_intercytex

  • J

    well….they did say that hair multiplication was supposed to come to market in 2010? and I really think follica will come to market before the 4-5yrs they told us……

  • James

    You should all checkout:

    http://www.xconomy.com/san-diego/2009/04/27/histogen-back-in-startup-mode-launches-skin-care-products/

    A “couple of weeks” til results,

    My bet is May 20th guys

  • Shooter

    Wtf…

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AppsEtEGzSA

    At two minutes Oprah asks if Acell can regrow hair and the guy says “Yes it can.” Is he freaking serious? Let’s DO IT ALREADY!!!!!

    I know people got their hopes up about this powder before when Dr. Jones tried it, but the wound scabbed when he tried it and it’s not supposed to heal that way when you use the matrix…

  • Shooter

    Wtf…?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AppsEtEGzSA

    Oprah: Can it regrow hair?
    Mr. Speivak: Yes it can.

    Am I missing something? Didn’t Dr. Jones’ experiment fail? Acell? Ummmm… this is kind of important?

  • Shooter

    Did anyone see this on Oprah?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AppsEtEGzSA

    Oprah: Can this help bald guys regrow hair?
    Mr. Spievak: Yes it can.

    I thought Dr. Jones’ Acell experiment was UNsuccessful? Am I missing something?

  • Shooter

    Wow, my bad for posting that three times… thought it didn’t go through.

  • Artista

    Shooter,,no worries. It happened to me not that long ago. You must remember, Mr Spievak is the brother of the Med researcher. His was of a layman’s answer to Oprahs question. Can you show a link to Dr Jones experiment?

  • Dave
  • D

    Since the skincare products contain Regenica, can it be applied on the scalp as well to regrow hair?

  • James

    Does anyone even bother to read previsous posts no the Histogen is not new news i posted it just yesterday!

    As is the news on Intercytex macular degernation partnership

    Lets not let this forum degenerate!

  • ItsWhatever

    See, the good news is just strolling it’s way in. I hope the results aren’t hype, but anything will be better than Rogaine and the rest of the scam bullshit. I’m just happy that all this is coming to a close (hopefully!)! I’ve seen a lot of hurt people on here. Dreadfully insecure, and I don’t blame you. I hope it all works out for you; now and as an option for me later on. It’s all good!

    We have a pursuit for truth and quality, we can’t let them off the hook, but should shy away from being disrespectful and even threatening. They’re doing what they can do. Patience is a virtue, and if you get hysterical, it’s not a hair issue, but one of mental health and stability.

    Hell, they say they’ll have a cure for the most common form of blindness in 5 years, I don’t see how they can’t get a hair follicle to sprout.

    Stay up, men and women!

  • Artista

    ItsWhatever,,amen brother. People have been getting scammed in all forms for all reasons ,especially in the hair field since the beginning of time. You are correct to say that it is coming to an end, we are closer than ever before now. To some its too good to be true and i cant blame people for that type of pessimism. All , hang in there…..!

  • washington

    some newness of follica? it thought that it would be the end of our suffering (follica) but I find that I deceived myself.

  • Artista

    Washington, I have yet to hear anything from Follica in which they made public that they had failed or are closing up shop, have you? Speculation, like assumption can be your own spiritual downfall. Another thing to ponder for yourself, Follica isnt the only kid on the block. I know you know that. Scroll up ,,reread.

  • washington

    OK . but now I can believe that we will not have nothing before 5 years. I thought that follica he would be next to the cure, but is not.

  • ZZ

    Nothing really new here but another interesting piece on PRP.

    http://www.grecohairsurgery.com/downloads/backtothefuture.pdf

  • Metsie

    Artista it appears our buddy washington enjoys playing the role of the wet blanket just to get a rise.
    Ok washington to believe nothing on 15-20 years, follica door close open to never again.

  • WASHINGTON

    Metsie…….because it is worried about me? with my thoughts? these are MY THOUGHTS on follica…or you have some information that has not taken 5 years more than follica to leave in the market? some information??? not??? ok…

  • washington

    somebody already saw this video? they could explain on what this doctor says? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cQxjHJL4DtA

  • R

    Stop it!!! Wait and see…complaining will not speed up the process. The benchmarking and speed regarding hair science is overcoming many obstacles and the path forward is promising. Who said (I mean researchers in hair science and actually experimenting products) that it will take 15 – 20 years? Find out who and that firm and scientist is out of our reach and scope in the interim. Now find the companies and scientist that stated 5- 8 years, then put them in a special category to review later and then those that stated 3- 5 years and again, categorize them.

    This will keep the companies and scientist in categories where we can say OK…we cant complain about them due to statements satating X amount of years.

    We are near the end and we will start learning more as they perfect the solution. Just keep communicating with facts and we will see and return a better outcome for all. Follica is quiet for reasearch purposes only. They won’t come out until they have something to share. That goes for every other firm.

  • washington

    You Tube video of my PRP treatment posted – Dr. Jones, 29.04.2009 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v2GrFaTVOBI

  • OS

    Guys, wake up! nothing is coming in “the next couple of years”, nothing, nothing N-O-T-H-I-N-G and im sorry to be the one to break it to you like this, but wake up and smell the testosterone, the earlier we *might* see something is somewhere aruond 2015-2020~ if you really think we will have a “cure” in the next couple of years then you are an idiot, just look at teh last 10 years, so manny comepnies rose and failed, so manny promises, WAKE UP! they say the exat same thing 6 years ago and 10 years ago (and if you dont belvie me just brows the forums!!) “HM – around the corner” ffppptt and i was such a fool to belive this noneseness, there wasnt a cure back then, there isnt a cure right now, and not gonna be a cure for the next decade, stop holding to falls hopes! get on with your lives,the day they will (if at all) manage to actually grow hair will take more then a few years, and to perfect the process will take anohter decade or so, by the time you will be able to effrod such treatment you will be 50 with kids ( if you lucky) and at least they will get to enjoy a good treatment ! i pray for our kids! :) (and im so sick of this situation, if you would ask me 6 years from now what a NW i would be shocked…now i spot it on others!!fUUUCCkkk i live in a differnt world nowa days :/ )

  • JoJo

    R : ” We are near the end and … ”

    Do you see yourself as a prophet ?

  • D

    Alright people lets put a stop to the bickering. I understand that many of you have fallen victim to false claims in the past, but R here seems to be the most learned about the subject and has maintained contact with industry reps, and to me all evidence thus far points to an end to Alopecia within the next few years or less.

  • sam

    I think that there will be a treatment to prevent alopecia very soon with stem cell technology actualy there are very viable claims already on the market. As far as creating new folicles that seems to be a good time from now but u never know so realy if you are going to be negative just keep it to your self because i dont wanna receive emails of you predicting the future. im using Aand G hair complex and i will keep u guys posted. oh and thatnks for the info guys on things like emu oil and revita shampoo im going to buy those and start. i am a defuse thiner norwood 2

  • ItsWhatever

    OS, you can be as pessimistic as you’d like, but just because there hasn’t been a cure, doesn’t mean there will never be. If we’re using that kind of rationale, we’d still be in the stone age of technolgy. We have people from Harvard medical school, Cambridge University, and others all over the world trying to beat MPB! The best and brightest! We are in the infantcy of stem cell technology, but even the current American administration has OK’d massive stem cell grants. The same grants they say that not only baldness, but blindness will be a thing of the past. This is the evolutionary cycle of medicine and technology!

    We live in marvelous times! You can live it well, or you can cry and complain about something completely beyond your control.

    We are blessed that it’s even a concern and that we have some great minds even working towards our convenience.

  • OS

    Im not complaining, im your reality check! nothing is coming soon, so stop feeding people with that crap! the same way you telling me there will be a cure soon i telling you there isnt, actually i have more proof based on past attempts for the last decade! not only that but also (!!) the most promising companies claim THEMSELVES that a cure will come at least in 2015 (!!) who gives fouck if there’s cure at 2015 ?!?!!? if i was 15 i would care, but im not, and i really dont give a fuck too about people working on this now if i cant enjoy the fruits, might aswell stop working on it then, and stop making claims that we will see something soon, you have to be a complete fool to actually belive you wil have a good full head of hair by 2010-12

  • R

    Past attempts were never backed by solid science especially ones of today. I nor any one else can give a time frame, just the cientist in whcih I quote. Nothing more than theri quotes. Please re-read thier quotes as they mimick my statements. Past attempts were never real science, just haphazard attempts with half-ass non researched formulas. So please as of today, past attempts of just five years ago do not compete of what was discovered and being studied in the last 3 years. Begin there and wait. Intercytex has not quit!!!! Must be a reason.

  • washington

    R….it could try to enter in contact with some representative of returninghope.com ? I do not say English, but he would like more information on (clonagem) or the multiplication it hair through the fat cells. THANKS

  • ItsWhatever

    I have a head of hair, brocious.

    You have more than just a balding problem, you have psychological issues. You speak like a fucking loser and probably are one, and that has nothing to do with your hair. You sound miserable to be around, and if this whole process was karmatic, you’d be the last in line.

    We have stem cell researchers who are leaders in their field from the most prestigous schools in the world. You should be so lucky that they’re not focusing on something more important than novelty hair solutions.

    Get a grip, whiner.

  • R

    Look..if you don’t trully believe something will come anytime soon than leave the forum and wait 20 years. It is that simple!

    tsWhatever…why the attack? Nothing is solved of gained just a wall between you and the situation. I suffer from hairloss but goodlooking and have never had problems getting women. So such comments if directed to me fall on deaf ears. I have dated exotic dancers and the like as well as women from all backgrounds that are very beautiful..so hair loss was never a factor for making love to hot women. The hair loss experience represents a loss to a part of your body and it is nice to have that part back which does help shape your face.

    I, however according to everyone have a great shaped head so Kudos to my attractiveness and correct shaped head.

    To everyone else…just wait and report the facts only. If you want state 20 years…see you in 20!!!

  • OS

    “I have dated exotic dancers and the like as well as women from all backgrounds that are very beautiful..
    ..
    , however according to everyone have a great shaped head so Kudos to my attractiveness and correct shaped head.”

    No wonder your so eas about it then!!!!!!!!! not all of us can pull off that shaved look my dear freind :(

  • Artista

    Well ok then,,hope everyone has gotten the frustrations out of their systems now.
    For those here that truly believe we will NOT see anything medically effective achieved within single digit years….why are you here ?
    Why are you wasting your time? Why stick around and throw insults to others? i can understand the frustrations but misdirected anger isnt the solution here. Better to accept your own conclusion that there WILL NOT be anything within a satisfactory time frame and go on with your life. See you in 15-20 years as someone had put it. Dont worry about us we will be oK.

  • OS

    why do you care so much if people with differnt opinions to yours will leave or stay??? :S this is the first forum that i dissagree with someone and everyone wants me to leave, its like zombie-land or something, “we are the borg! leave the forum or you will be assimilated”

  • Artista

    It is quite obvious to me OS,that you have a serious maturity level issue. It was SUGGESTED to you that if this site is an exercise in futility for you then maybe you should find someplace else much more comparable to your intelligence. Do you feel compelled to educate us and that YOUR conclusions to all the MPB research is paramount? That you of all people here have all the answers? Or is it that the act of insulting people here is the underlying agenda for you. Lashing out at others here because med results have been disappointing in the past isnt cool OS. Stick around if youd like of course,,please dont be rude to those that dont share your point of view. Fair enough?