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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  • JoJo

    ” I have dated exotic dancers and … ”

    LOL, do you tell them your prophecies ?

  • Metsie

    Funny how all the 15-20ers showed upa t the same time. The wet blanket team has launched a full attack. Why ? I believe they are agenda driven.
    Seems everyday someone comes up with very relevant information on progress to eradicate MPB. Good information but obviously no gurantees. The point is they give us hope. Hope that is obviously a threat to the snake oil salesmen out there.
    Give this new theory a chance to work, an honest time period for science to prove or disprove itself. If it dosent work so be it, life goes on. To all the 15-20ers, stfu with your poison, its giving you a false happiness.

  • OS

    Metsie, why you atteck the young people? are you jealuse ? i tell you this, id rather be a 30yo with nw3 then 21 with nw5!! trust me about this :/

  • Metsie

    OS,
    15-20ers = the jerkoffs that show up saying nothing will be on the market until 15-20years from now. Thanks for spelling yourself out though I figured you for a very immature kid. Obnoxious annoying and stupid are now way to go through life son.

  • X

    You bald old farts are way too sensitive. Everyone is entitled to their own opinions.

  • Artista

    Metsie, i have never been one to buy into conspiracy theories. The negativity and pessimism you witness here are one of two things.
    Frustrations due to disappointments,,in the many promises given before(usually by snakeoil salesmen) or maybe disappointment in themselves.
    I know that if i came onto a site like this that delves in business/medical/scientific research with the immaturity and schoolyard behavior we have witnessed from these few,,id have to question my own character.
    Everyone has their own opnion its true. When that opinion turns opinionated on a site that exisit for open exchange,well then its a different story.The fact that a person on this site would take it upon him/herself to be a ‘reality check’ for everyone is assinine at the very least. To those who are here SERIOUSLY to be educated,consider the source of the negativity recognize the agenda of those that act uncothly and then dismiss them for what they are.

  • Metsie

    Is that what your mommy tells you OS? I mean “X”

  • Metsie

    Well said Artista and I agree 100%. With that said I will never post on this again unless its relevant information on MPB. I’m sure a welcomed relief LOL. Taking on the OS/X’s is a waste of time and proves nothing. Enjoy your rants little boys. Hopefully science will make you eat your words.
    Metsie, Out !

  • James

    Yet more evidence for the progression of cell therapy!

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090430101449.htm

  • WASHINGTON

    what thinks of this? (DR.GREGO)…Personally, I have had three hair transplants and have been on Propecia for 8 years. I have had cellular therapy and in twenty five years of being in medicine have never seen some of the things I have seen with this therapy. http://www.baldtruthtalk.com/showthread.php?s=5bf2c62a7dbfc4e1dd45e0bfd09f9e2a&t=833&page=2

  • A

    LOL @ this website. What has it become, you people are all jokes.

  • OS

    Agree with A !

  • R

    Why are people here all jokes and why are you here commenting? The one thing that intrigues me is that people talk alot of game but visit and participate just as much as the other. Maybe some people are here with a bad outlook and these people need to reevaluate their time here, but for the most part, this site should be used to share info that are based on facts only.

  • Artista

    I am in complete agreement with R, You have to ask why there isnt a moderator controlling or steering the conversation on the right path.To remove those that want to act uncouthly and insult others would go a long way in civility. After reading those last couple of comments made Im rethinking my participation here.

  • washington

    http://www.biolamina.com people are thinking about using this product to recoup its hair…. some idea R? ARTIST? somebody?

  • A

    I was happy to comment here until this place turned to shit. It used to be educated and based on science, then came the naysayers and people who tried to control everyone elses thoughts IE: Telling people that propecia doesnt work is a clear lie. Telling people your guarenteed side effects is a lie, and pushing people to a plant website like hairloss research is a lie. And FYI i clearly havnt posted here for awhile and when i check on this site LOL at the screen was the first thing i did. Look at you guys fighting amoungst yourselves man.

  • ZZ

    To the positive contributors, I would encourage you to not let some of the types making recent posts influence your behavior (i.e staying away from the site). There is absolutely no redeeming value in these types of comments. I could care less about their opinions…..this is just frustration and immaturity. Responding to them does nothing but waste your time and encourage their worthless posts. This and all sites seem to go thru periods of trash talking like this but it does not bother me b/c I just ignore them and skip the garbage. Note that this post is responding to and directed to the positive, mature, socially adjusted forces contributing to this site.

  • D

    What do you guys think about A&G hair complex? Users on other sites have been reporting regrowth. I’ve e-mailed their reps and basically you apply it to balding/thinning areas and it restarts the follicles.

  • R

    Everyone…no one tries anything until enough science and people under a doctors supervision has experimented with the product. This goes for the Lamin 511. I too want this to end soon but caution and patience is important. Also, look at the latest accomplishments which is great for all of us so let’s not get ahead of ourselves. If people are trying these products then allow them to report w/pictures, application doses and timelines. BTW..has anyone heard from that guy self-scraping (i.e. Follicas) technique and his results?

  • washington

    has anyone heard from that guy self-scraping (i.e. Follicas) technique and his results? >>>>I still do not know… but we will see in the hairsite or another place.

  • JoJo

    Artista : “Im rethinking my participation here”

    Don’t do that to the people here, if you leave … then there will never be a cure … please, stay here, do it for them !

  • D

    Well A&G complex does contain fibroblast growth factors which promote wound healing which I think has the same effect as the PRP treatment. Many users are stating that their scalp feels rejuvenated and that they’re seeing new hair regrowth (albeit small hairs) in balding areas. That might mean that their miniaturization is reversing and their follicles are being reactivated. I’ve actually seen someone post pictures of new tiny hairs growing from where his juvenile hairline used to be. Although I do agree with R that it is too early to tell. So I’ll make my final assessment after the summer is over whether to buy it myself or not.

  • Artista

    A&G complex ? I havent heard of any positive results as yet. Not to say there isnt any. Thanks D for that info i have a feeling there will be more than ONE GOOD treatment for MPB so i would not be surprised if that shows great results,,R is right though. Lets use patience. There is a member on one of the blog sites ‘hairlosstalk’(not sure if i can add the whole link) Im awaiting his next set of pics. He is a patient with Dr Greco using the PRP treatment and has been taking home pics from the onset. Lets hope for the best for him ,,and for us. There is a self-scraping guy? Oh my,,,,,

  • Artista

    Hey D and all else… Dr Rassman was asked about his feelings concerning A&G. Here is a segment~~”It reeks of snake oil, and as a skeptic, you can assume where I’d file this product under.”~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    his link to this.
    http://www.xconomy.com/boston/2008/08/12/new-fundraising-for-hair-raising-follica-takes-in-11-million-for-baldness-treatment-approach/comment-page-25/#comment-47116

    I respect Dr Rassman’s opinions on these type of issues.

  • Artista

    Hey D and all,,,I tried to message prior to this one but because I added a link to Dr Rassman’s site, it didnt go thru as yet. Here is basically what i found. When Dr Rassman was asked about his views on A&G he said~~”.. who conducted the study, where was it published, and how long was the study? It reeks of snake oil, and as a skeptic, you can assume where I’d file this product under.” i respect Dr Rassman has to say pertaining to these issues. He always speaks of buyer beware and health risks.

  • Sam

    R u freaking serious, Dr Rassman should be called MR Propecia telling 18 year olds that it is ok for them to take dht blockers when their bodies have not even fully matured yet. One kid on his blog asked why his doctor told him not to take propecia at this age because it is not safe to mess with his hormones at eighteen and was directed to a dermatologist, and Rassman replied that he sees nothing wrong with that and that is his only chance. In this forum alone I have learned of so many natural ways to fight hair loss early on. He backs up Propecia as if he has been bought, I for one used to read his blogs and I wish I never did or touch that poison propecia ( read up if u disagree).
    Now for a&g are you gonna believe a transplant doctor or a founder ( dr)of a great skin solutions company. I use a&g and I’m happy so far user regrowth and I will keep u guys posted I’m under intricate1 on hair loss fight com please read up thanks guys ( I rather be bald than go through a ht surgery (a joke) or propecia freaking poison from big pharma and their propaganda

  • Artista

    Sam, thanks for the input. Will look into what you have said. It seems you have had experience with Propecia and now A&G. Dr Rassman’ remarks werent the only skeptical views I had read in re to A&G. To also expand, in the past years i have read peoples RAVE reviews of Propecia as well as the negative reviews. So you see Sam, no disrespect, yours in just one experience. I myself have not used those meds, prop. minox etc. The eventual MPB remedies will be in medical engineering….soon

  • Whoop

    I don’t think any non-user can say whether A&G HC is a scam yes or no. Dr. Rassman, with all due respect, doesn’t have the knowledge I think to predict whether a new ‘out of the box thinking’-product will work. Unless it’s complete bs, but it isn’t.

  • Artista

    Sam, thanks for the input. Will look into what you have said. It seems you have had experience with Propecia and now A&G. Dr Rassman’ remarks werent the only skeptical views I had read in re to A&G. To also expand, in the past years i have read peoples RAVE reviews of Propecia as well as the negative reviews. So you see Sam, no disrespect, yours in just one experience. I myself have not used those meds, prop. minox etc.(the success rate %s are all way to low in my view)The eventual MPB remedies will be in HT and medical engineering….soon

  • A

    lol @ Sam for bashing the only thing that will save your hair – Ie: Propecia, A&G hair complex atleast shows signs of visable workings, for all your freaking herbal treatments for hair-loss you cant even show 1 picture, nor has any PERSON taking Herbal remedies shown 1 picture of regrowth EVER. At-least people on HLT forums are showing pictures of new hairs growing through, deal with it buddy until something better comes along your choices are drugs surgery or nothing. That goes for all of you.

  • Artista

    Hey Sam,R,D,Metsie,Washington,JoJo,ZZ,ItsWhatever,and all brothers for some reason i am reminded that the upcoming summer season will be bringing on the usual annoying pests. Also remember that the Intercytex phase2 trials are ongoing.Im sure the there will be SOME type of POSITIVE results. Just how extensive is the question. Let the +Karma flow..lol.

  • James

    I found a whisper of news on follica…

    http://www.iguanabio.com/hey-daphne-zohars-follica-on-foxnews/

    Not much

    but something is better than nothing!

  • Artista

    James~ great input. I actually like Follica’s(and the others)stance on their minimal promotion. Leads me to believe they are serious in what they do with research. (as a side note MsZohar is a hottie.lol)

  • AA

    A, what about the natural anti-inflammatory effects of curcumin/resveratrol??

    Some claimed it stopped fallout completely and in the months thereafter, got some regrowth. Although, no pictures have been posted, I see where you’re coming from.

    Personnaly, going on propecia is such a shit of an idea. This Dr.Rassman is a real quack to tell 18 year olds taking this is fine. it is not fine!

    For example: http://blog.bioethics.net/2009/05/merck-makes-phony-peerreview-journal/

  • Artista

    “Doctor Won’t Prescribe 18 Year Old Propecia”
    the question:
    I recently turned eighteen years old and have noticed a recession of my hairline in the corner’s of my hairline. My grandfather’s father and father both have hair loss and my mother’s father as well, though not as significant.
    I recently went to see a doctor(after a long wait, grr) and he wouldn’t give me a prescription for Propecia because of the effects on hormone’s for someone my age. But as I recall, reading through this site, Propecia ought to be most effective for someone my age.
    He referred me to a dermatologist, whom is booking for November(my god, about 5-6 months…).
    My question is ‘What are the effects on the hormone’s on someone my age taking Propecia and is it worth the successful hair regrowth which should come from someone my age?’
    Thank you.
    Dr Rassman’s answer:
    It is not unreasonable for an 18 year old with proven genetic hair loss to take Propecia (finasteride 1mg). You’re likely past the age of puberty, so I don’t understand what problems your doctor has with the medication. Propecia does work best when the genetic hair loss is caught early.

    To prove that you have genetic hair loss (and not just a maturing hairline), then you should get your hair mapped out to see if there is any substantial miniaturization behind the mature hairline, and if so, then this drug will be effective and generally indicated. Your doctor will make the final determination on prescribing you this medication, however. Also, you might consider asking your doctor to refer you to a different dermatologist — one that doesn’t have you waiting half a year to see him.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    “Can Propecia Interfere with My 18 Year Old Son’s Genitalia Growth?”
    the question:
    I’d like to know if finasteride is safe for an 18 year old boy. Can it interfere with a possible genitalia growth spurt that I’ve been told can occur even after complete bone growth up to age 20 or 21? My son appears to have male pattern baldness, so his Dermatologist has put him on the drug, but his Endocrinologist advises against it. My son doesn’t want to lose his hair so he’s taking Propecia, but doesn’t know about the other possible problem. It’s not something I want him worrying about unless the drug can really interfere with genitalia growth, in which case he should know so he can decide for himself whether or not to take the drug. Please advise.
    Dr Rassman’s answer:
    Propecia (finasteride 1mg) is safe for 18 year olds and this medication is not known to retard genitalia development in young men. The 5-year effectiveness and safety study submitted to the FDA included men aged 18 to 41 years old. He is correct that to hold on to his hair, this is the best approach.
    This would define Dr Rassman as a quack?
    Is there something here that i am missing?

  • Artista

    Here is something more i came across while looking into a couple of claims made here that Rassman was a quack for ‘recommending’ propecia to an 18 year old.
    askdocweb.com
    Subj: Propecia for minors?
    Date: 11/30/2006
    I was wondering if propecia is okay for teens. I’m 16 and have a pretty bad receding hairline and I have no idea what to do. About a year ago I had ambulatory surgery performed on one of my eyes and I’ve heard that surgeries and car accidents shocks the body and causes hair to fall out. If propecia is not safe for teens why? What type of doctor can I go see about this? What other products might be safe for a 16 teen year old? And please don’t think I’m just an insecure teen because I’m not and I know I really have a receding hairline, my family doctor has already confirmed it. Thanks!
    Robert
    AskDocWeb: The type of doctor you need is a dermatologist. They specialize in skin conditions and since hair grows from follicles in the skin, that’s their area of expertise. The safety and effectiveness of Propecia has not been tested for those under the age of 18 so the manufacturer says not to use it.
    Note it was stated as being not UNDER 18

  • A

    AA, Propecia is a shit of a drug and i hate being on it. But in the real world and not fantasy land if you wanna save your hair this is the main choice you have to do so. If Curcumin was so powerful in stopping hairloss then you would be seeing ASJ from androscience on the market already instead of struggling through clinical phases. ASJ-900 or whatever it is called is supposed to be Curcumin x30 but it has floundered and seemingly been put to rest. Once i see proof that something works then ill believe it until then you have limited choice.

  • toppedout

    I had no problems with propecia, I took it for 6yrs. You become immune to it and it becomes less effective and it don’t work on the hairline at all. I had no physical problems with it.

  • toppedout

    infact it seems as though my sex drive elevated

  • AA

    The point being DHT is a very important hormone to have kicking around. It’s the stuff that makes you want to live. I doubt there have been many propecia users that stated their sex drives have elevated.

  • R

    Alternatives for propecia.

    Given the sexual, psychological, and cognitive consequences of finasteride, (Propecia/Proscar), many wonder if side effect free alternatives that promote hair growth exists??

    The short answer is yes. Finasteride functions by lowering serum levels of DHT via its ability to inhibit 5 alpha reductase type 2. Dutasteride (Avodart) lowers DHT even further by inhibiting 5 alpha reductase types 1 and 2. Fortunately, and contrary to what most M.D.’s and drug companies would have you believe, there are several natural side effect free compounds that lower serum DHT and provide ADDITIONAL mechanisms that benefit hair growth in ways Propecia doesn’t. These effects have been elucidated many times over in published studies.

    These compounds include, but may not be limited to the following:

    Soy Isoflavones: The simple dietary consumption of Soy based foods lowers serum DHT. It is highly likely that higher concentrations of specific Isoflavones lower DHT significantly further. MPB in soy consuming is a mere fraction of what it is in non soy consuming cultures.

  • R

    Propecia Side Effects

    The Physician’s Desk Reference (PDR) states that the side effects of finasteride,(Proscar/Propecia) occur in less than 2% of the users. Physicians who specialize in the treatment of hair loss typically tell a different story-that the reported side effects from their patients are more in the 30-40% range.

    Many who do report side effects, especially in the area of sexual functioning, are often dismissed as yielding to the power of suggestion and essentially creating “placebo” side effects. Although there clearly is a placebo phenomena in regards to both side effects and benefits, there is ample reason to conclude that the incidence of finasteride side effects goes well beyond the 2% reported (by the drug company that makes finasteride) in the PDR.

    The “don’t confuse us with the facts” mainstream medical community stands by the “less than 2% incidence” reported in the PDR. Proscar has been on the market for 16 years, Propecia has been on the market for 10 years.

    Gynecomastia, (breast enlargement in men) almost inconspicuously appeared on the side effect lists a few years ago. We have been helping men resolve this emotionally and cosmetically taxing side effect long before it appeared in the PDR, and based on the voluminous feedback we’ve gotten, we’ve concluded that this a not too uncommon occurrence.

    There are now studies conclusively linking finasteride to depression and possibly cognitive deficits. For a more detailed look into that, click here:

    Propecia, Depression, and Cognitive Dysfunction

    If you are using, or have previously used, or are considering Propecia or Proscar (finasteride) an online support community, with an active forum exists that exclusively deals with finasteride side effects. It is highly recommended. Here’s the link:

    Propecia Help

  • A

    Stop posting shit from your hippy herb site R. Show scientific proof those studies dont even exist its what you fall for from hairloss research

  • Artista

    Thanks for all the info on Propecia R. All educated information is welcomed here of course. I, like most of us , have looked into all the available med applications for MPB. The low success rates and possible side effects turned me away. I know there are a % of people out there that have experienced fantastic results and thats great. That being said I truly believe that we are at the threshold of a new age in the treatment of MPB. Oral and topical treatments will be a thing of the past. HTs done by GOOD docs are at an optimum level now. I need not mention all of the companys involved with med hair engineering at present. What an exciting period. On a side note,I still havent seen anything to show that Dr Rassman is a ‘quack’. This is a man that soberly deters people from putting themselves at risk with the salesmen, snakeoil, and treatments that have not been yet proven by the medical community. Irresponsible allegations show some type of agenda here.

  • R

    A……Why don’t you show me the real scientific research on propecia that states only 1% of the people. Please follow the links and interview doctors that prescribe propecia…better yet…research propecia users.

    You see my un-educated poster….researcvh has shown as well as posters from around the world(if you choose to actually research before posting) that the side effects of propecia and other drugs are much higher.
    Drugs are studied using 6 ft and 200 lbs people…so if you weigh less, you are taken in a higher in correlation to your body weight and metabolism.

    I welcome that you choose prescription drugs and that you love to have succulant titties. But for the rest of us…the natural approach is always the best option. Another person “A” that is brainwashed by the pharma arena. Make sure you buy A cup bras.

  • Artista

    Just to add, the natural approach is always the best way to treat most things in life. Heck, thru personal experience i had found that by changing my diet my hair was in much better health and volume. I was provided that info from people/posters like R.

  • washington

    I think beard grafting has the potential to be an alternative to BHT (dr. jerry cooley) http://www.baldtruthtalk.com/showthread.php?t=885

  • NR

    I just wanted to say that i have used R’s herbal method approach and definitely receive results. I noticed a decent amount of regrowth in the frontal region and i also notice my hair is thicker. there is research to back up these claims that R makes. just look at the link he often provides to MPB research. They are designed to be strictly of assistance. Besides, their herbal recommendations are useful for keeping the whole body healthy and not just for maintaining and regrowing hair. everyone should really look at what that site has to say. i did, and now i feel a lot more confident with myself.

  • toppedout

    “R” could you give me that site on herbal cures for mpb.

  • R