For Those on Watch, Hope Springs Eternal as Hair Trials Inch Along
Waiting for the biotech industry to advance new treatments for male pattern baldness (as well as female hair loss) might seem about as exciting as watching hair grow. But some people have a lot of skin in the game, if you know what I mean.
More than just a few people, actually. San Diego’s Histogen estimates that hair loss affects some 40 million men and 21 million women in the United States alone. Histogen, which has been developing a bio-engineered treatment for stimulating hair growth, says less than 7 percent seek treatment for their hair loss “due to the limitations of available options.”
For these people, any incremental improvement in hair growth can be thrilling—even life-changing—which helps explain a burst of enthusiasm we’ve noticed in recent days in messages penned below a 2011 article about Boston-based Follica on the Xconomy Boston website. With close to 1,500 comments posted over the past 14 months our readers have shown no loss for words, making this one article a defacto online message board and a virtual support group for the follically challenged.
As I reported in 2010, few life sciences companies have gotten as much mileage from a pilot trial that enrolled two dozen patients as Histogen has for its much-anticipated treatment. The company says its formulation consists of proteins, including growth factor molecules, secreted by human fibroblast cells grown in a laboratory culture. The concoction is injected just below the scalp.
Over the past week, gentle and not so-gentle visitors to the Follica comment page have seized on the early results of Histogen’s latest experimental trial, which Histogen CEO Gail Naughton presented a week ago in Raleigh, NC, during the annual meeting of the Society for Investigative Dermatology. Naughton gave an oral summary of the data on May 11 and presented a poster the following day on “Stimulation of hair growth in humans by cell-secreted proteins.”
The data has not yet been published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal, according to a Histogen spokeswoman. “We are not releasing an announcement at this time,” she adds.
Yet Histogen has summarized its early findings on its website, where a PDF copy of the May 12 poster also can be downloaded. The company says 56 patients were enrolled in … Next Page »