A Very Brief Follica Update for Our Loyal Readers

1/22/10Follow @bbuderi

Ever since it announced its $5.5 million Series A funding round in January 2008, we have covered the news of Follica, the Boston area startup out to bring a scientific approach to developing novel ways of treating and, perhaps one day even curing, baldness and other hair-follicle disorders. These stories, including news of Follica’s $11 million Series B round in August 2008, and the hiring of a new CEO last spring, have attracted a tremendous readership, and indeed have drawn several thousand comments, as fans and followers of Follica have become some of our most treasured readers.

But to the dismay of many of those readers, who are anxious for the latest from the startup, we have had nothing to report since the hiring of CEO William Ju last May. Several of you have written to me personally to ask if there is any way I might coax more news out of the company.

I have been trying, I assure you, and this week I had a modicum of success. Though I couldn’t get anything on the record from a Follica official, sources at the company confirmed that “we are very excited about the progress and are pushing forward with our programs. Everything is going very well and management, the board, and the Scientific Advisory Board are all extremely encouraged by our scientific progress and results.”

I also learned that the company has made some recent hires to expand its staff, though my sources wouldn’t name names or specify how many people have been hired or what roles they are filling.

Lots of caveats to consider. First, try not to read too much into this. These are very vague comments, of the type many companies make when they don’t have much new to impart, or when they don’t want to raise anyone’s expectations. And remember, the science Follica is pursuing is, as far as we can tell, still extremely experimental. So even with some solid advances, an effective treatment could well be years off.

Still, I hope this helps to some degree. Rest assured, we will keep trying to learn more and will let you know as soon as we do. And if you learn anything, please don’t hesitate to let us know, and we will try to run it down.


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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  • Shooter

    Herzog, how do you figure TrichoScience is 2.5 years out? The first 20-person safety trial won’t be completed until 2013. After that, there are two larger phases that need to be completed. It even says “We believe that our clinical trials will take a substantial period of time to complete.” under Item 3. Am I missing something?

  • herzog

    Damn you’re right. I thought the Georgia test would have been the whole shebang, Certifying it worked and then taking 6 months to make it available. Koo koo.

    One good thing is that they cite Aderans as a viable competitor without discounting them at all – and that’s after reviewing their science.

  • spyder

    “Competitors in the hair restoration and related fields may currently offer, or may develop, superior hair loss solutions which could limit the market for our technology.”

    Correct. Because ‘superior hair loss solutions’ ARE already offered by MANY competitors and their number will rise during the coming 12 month – luckily, this is no joke.

  • Shooter

    Spyder, are you referring to ACell?

  • tk

    http://www.theestheticclinic.com/cosmetic-hair_latest_research.html

    That QR thing from India is looking mighty good.
    I’m considering going there next summer if I can organize decent accomodation. I wonder what’s the cheapest plane ticket to India?
    Let’s wait for more testimonies first.

  • JD

    Jordan, I’d probably wait or do fue, which i think you said you were going to do if you had a transplant. A guy on another site was saying how he had no luck with minox using it twice a day. Then he was able to get it really cheap at costco so he started using it 4-5 times a day to see what happened. Apparently he regained 90% of his lost hair (said he could see his scalp at one time) and the frequent use of minox has halted any loss for 6 years now. I would try this first if I were you. If not costco then walmart brand which is cheap. There is alot of evidence out there that this could work, especially if you have responded well to using minox twice a day. Just another option to try instead of shelling out alot of cash. I started this a week ago. Some people hate minox being in their hair but to me it adds volume so i dont mind at all.

  • C

    And get off Fin before it’s too late, which it may be now anyway.

    Evil poison.

  • JD

    That reminds me..the guy who was talking about this is not on fin/prop. He claims he has maintained almost all of his hair using 5% generic minoxidil 4-5 times a day. And before going to this regimen he was pretty thin according to him. Anybody who has had good results with minox knows it somehow reverses the effects on dht if only temporarily. It seems plausible that using the stuff 4-5 times a day could hold off dht effects totally because of the constant pumping of circulation and whatever else minoxidil is believed to supply to hair follicles. I advise using folligen for those sensitive to minoxidil. It eliminates itching. Also emu oil has worked great for me. I use alot of it and have less fall out.

  • herzog

    Thanks to Propecia, I am currently undergoing hormone replacement therapy. I am 27 years old. Not cool.

  • Shooter

    Herzog, how long after starting Propecia did you start experiencing negative symptoms?

  • rev

    I’ve been on Propecia for 11 years. I can’t say that I had any drastic side-effects. Than again, I can’t say that it’s benefited me as well as I’d like.

    I hate being Propecia’s b*tch; a next gen treatment couldn’t come soon enough. Sometimes it feels that –upon receiving accreditation for their findings– HM researchers relegate themselves to sitting around the office all day with their thumbs jammed up their butts.

  • herzog

    Shooter,
    It’s hard to say really because stuff regarding the downstairs piping has such a sensitive relationship to what’s going on with you mentally. I was in denial that Propecia caused any problems and wasn’t really looking for a smoking gun. I just wanted to have amazing David Bowie hair and was convinced that would solve all my problems.

    It wasn’t until about 3 years into it where I was like, ok, somethings wrong with me that wasn’t a problem at all a few years back. I always assumed it was the girl or the situation. Then I was with a girl I KNEW I was into (young, amazing baby-fat tits, awesome hookerish make-up, totally into pleasing me at all costs), but little Freddy just wasn’t physically doing what he normally would do when the rest of me was so fired up in my heart and mind.

    I went to to Dr. Alan Jacobs in New York and sure enough, something in my system was throwing a wrench in the hormones that made me male. Imagine that. When I stopped taking Propecia, nothing changed. That’s when he had me start self administering painful testosterone shots. After three months I stopped, because I realized I was starting to lock myself into a web I would never get out of.

    Once you get on that medical merry-go-round, it’s hard to tell if the reason your dick’s not getting hard is your biology or your total weariness of life and love in general. No matter what my testosterone levels are(or the other million hormones effected by Propecia), when I’m getting freaky with a girl now there is a large part of my brain that is racing about a zillion things, and too few of them are “god, what a relaxed and fun time I’m having”. I’m focusing too much on my performance. It’s a crazy cycle.

    Ironically enough, it’s agreed across the board that one of the best Testosterone builders out there is CONSISTENT SEX with a person you love and trust.

    So yeah. I’m getting all mellow now, getting super flexible, drinking tea, not trying to creep too hard… just being me. It’s working too. Slowly but surely, as opposed to quickly and dumbly.

  • rev

    You’re placing allot of blame on a single drug. I’m no fan of Propecia, but if it affected everyone’s hormone levels to your extent than it would have been pulled off the market a long time ago. I’ve been on Propecia for 11 years, and I can lift a can of paint with my wiener, use it for push-ups, or as a tripod when I have the urge to sleep standing up.

  • herzog

    Sure.

  • A

    I agree with Rev, i been on propecia on and off for about 4 – 5 years now and i have no ill side effects to note, still can do all the usual things i did before i went on it.

  • C

    I’ve been off it for nearly 5 months. The problems I’ve had since been off it are gradually getting better but many men may have problems for life. I believe in our lifetime this drug will eventually be banned. It already comes with very harsh warnings in Sweden.

    For some it works, we’re all individuals. All I’m saying is if you’re on it or thinking of going on Fin be prepared for the consequences.

  • herzog

    I was answering Shooter’s question with my personal story, not trying to start a new topic. The man asked me a question.

    I have to say, I’m not surprised that the immediate reaction to my post was my direct experience being discounted – and then a little fertility dance. We’re all impressed Rev.

    And no, it wouldn’t be taken off the market. Some have bad reactions, some don’t, but if you think the stats for guys with Propecia problems aren’t severely skewed you are dangerously wrong. Not only are men in denial or shame, but I think your “kind” words typify why men can’t seem to get their act together when it comes to sensitive things like this.

    It’s too ripe with opportunities to cut each other down, build ourselves up for a brief, artificial moment and then go have a quick wank in the handicapped restroom.

  • Maverick

    Some Canadians are not happy with Propecia either, they are trying to prepare a lawsuit against Merck.
    http://www.propeciaclassaction.com/

    If Propecia can cause that kind of damage, I wonder what damage will Avodart(dutasteride) consumers, get.

  • Jacob
  • http://www.xconomy.com/author/bbuderi/ Robert Buderi

    Hi all,

    Ryan has some good stuff from Bill Ju at Follica and George Cotsarelis about what this entails and might mean. Also some good Follica update material: http://www.xconomy.com/boston/2011/01/04/follica-co-founder-and-team-find-new-clues-about-male-baldness/

  • Shooter

    Robert, sincere thanks for keeping in touch with Follica as best as possible. We really appreciate the effort, and your reporting is top notch.

  • rev

    Indeed. Thank you Robert.

  • C

    For those in the UK – Nicky Campbell on Radio 5 had a phone-in this morning all about baldness prompted by this Follica news. I assume it will be in i-player.

  • Sebastiaan

    Hi guys,

    Don’t know if you guys already shared this info, but i guess it gives some new hope to all of us and that’s why i share it.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/mobile/health-12112673

  • Sebastiaan

    Ok, i see it’s mainly follica’s new update in a nutshell…

  • gg hazell

    is it just me or is this follica report basicaally saying that they think they know how to go about curing baldness but as of right now they have absolutely nothing?..correct me if im wrong gentlemen..i would like to hear some thoughts

  • SB

    Well, if its any consolation, Trichoscience is back in business under a new name: “Replicell” with a new website that will be launched later this year.

    Tricho must have had something, or no investors would have picked them up.

  • Ryan

    For anyone wondering where everyone is, we’re using this page to comment now.

    http://www.xconomy.com/boston/2011/01/04/follica-co-founder-and-team-find-new-clues-about-male-baldness/

  • Artista

    Good article ZZ.
    About this statement~”Though the company has said it’s doing human testing overseas..”
    I dont remember ever hearing that FOLLICA declared that they have been testing overseas as well. Of course one could assume that it was going on but here is a statement of fact. As i have said, they most certainly are keeping their cards very close to their chest.