Updated on November 18, 2017
As I was reading the program of the 10th World Congress for Hair Research a few of the oral presentations caught my eye. One such presentation was titled “Topical application of siRNA against androgen receptor for treatment of androgenic alopecia and female pattern of hair loss” by Quark Pharmaceuticals.
Quark is new to the scene of the hair growth industry. From their webpage we see they have therapies in development for pattern hair loss as well as chemotherapy-induced hair loss. These therapies may be developed as clinical drugs or cosmetics depending on the regulatory options available in their development location. Quark has headquarters in Fremont, CA (USA), research operations in Israel, and a joint venture in China. I reached out to Quark shortly after the WCHR2017 concluded and was put in touch with an associate Gavin Samuels. He was kind enough to annotate the slides of the presentation for this audience and provided a paragraph summary of Quark’s hair program found below the slides.
Topical Application of siRNA Against Androgen Receptor for the Treatment of Androgenic Alopecia and Female Pattern of Hair Loss
“Short inhibitory RNA (siRNA) is a novel class of therapeutics acting via specific inhibition of target gene expression. Quark Pharmaceuticals presented data at WCHR2017 demonstrating for the first time the possibility of effective topical delivery of synthetic siRNA compounds into hair follicles. Data was presented in mice and in human skin explant models.
In human scalp skin explants, topical treatment with siRNA targeting androgen receptor (AR) produced significant dose-dependent up-to 60-70% decrease of AR mRNA and protein levels. Topically administered siRNA reduces AR levels only at the site of application and does not leak into systemic circulation as shown both in vivo in mice and ex vivo in Franz diffusing cells containing human skin. No skin irritation following repeated topical applications of AR siRNA was observed.
The proof on concept of efficacy of topical siRNA treatment in ameliorating hair loss was demonstrated in the mouse model of chemotherapy-induced alopecia (CIA) using p53 targeted siRNA. P53 gene codes for a protein activated in response to chemotherapy in matrix keratinocytes leading to their apoptosis. The results indicate that p53 siRNA-treated mice were partially rescued from hair loss while demonstrating significantly accelerated hair re-growth by 8-9 days, in the affected area compared to control.
These data support the possibility of developing siRNA-based therapeutics (or cosmeceuticals) for treatment of androgenic alopecia as well as female pattern of hair loss.”
I followed up with Gavin on a few questions to bring more clarity on where things are at with Quark’s hair growth therapy and what its future is looking like.
Q&A with Gavin Samuels of Quark Pharma
FT: What are Quark’s plans moving forward for developing this technology into a therapeutic or cosmetic?
GS: Quark is actively looking for a development and commercialization partner for this product. We are excited by the data generated but also understand that developing a dermatology product, especially for alopecia is a highly specialized skill set. Our R&D efforts and expertise have mainly been in kidney and eye diseases and not dermatology hence the desire to find a partner. Quark however does have deep expertise in siRNA chemistry and development and we can contribute to a collaboration in this way.
FT: Is there a possibility this therapy could be developed as a cosmetic and reach the market sooner?
GS: As part of our development and commercialization partnering efforts, we have also had preliminary discussions with a few cosmetic companies. Regulatory agencies in different geographical regions approach this question in different ways. A cosmetic approach may have a shorter pathway to bringing a product to the market.
Special thanks to Gavin Samuels, Dr. Elena Feinstein, and Dr. Daniel Zurr of Quark Pharmaceuticals for sharing this information with Follicle Thought.
Updated on November 14, 2017
Brickell Biotech, a dermatology-focused pharmaceutical company, is developing a therapy which should prove to be of interest to the online hair community.
The company is based in Boulder, CO and has a variety of clinical programs underway in the area of dermatology. One such program is an oral CRTH2 antagonist for hair loss. A “CRTH2 antagonist” is another way of saying a “‘Prostaglandin D2 receptor 2 antagonist”, which should sound familiar to you. The CRTH2/PD2 mechanism of action has been quite the rave over the past few years in the hair-growth research world, and apparently Brickell has a novel molecule which acts on it.
The molecule is known as BBI-5000 and is also being developed by Brickell to treat atopic dermatitis. According to Brickell, BBI-5000 has completed the phase 1 stage of trials and its next stages of development are under consideration. New oral medications that improve hair growth and prevent loss will certainly be a commodity to go with all of the topical and injectable treatments on the horizon. For more, check the Brickell Biotech website.
It is appreciated that you cite this article if you share this news 🙂
Updated on October 28, 2017
Located within the biotech cluster which is Cambridge, Massachusetts sits a contemporary R&D platform, the LEO Science & Tech Hub. The Science & Tech Hub is an innovation unit of the international dermatology-focused LEO Pharma company. The Tech Hub seeks to engage with and bolster new technology which may offer solutions to dermatological and other medical needs. I was drawn to look further into the Science & Tech Hub after learning about: its work in the area of Alopecia Areata, and the open engagement model which the hub offers.
The model implemented by the LEO S&TH is straightforward, yet innovative and refreshing. They are openly seeking engagement from academic institutions, researchers, or entrepreneurs with promising technology/ideas to offer, in return, potential partnership or other means of help in developing said assets. From their website: “…we are able to offer various means of support like e.g. venture investment, co-development, access to LEO Pharma’s preclinical and clinical expertise as well as – through LEO Pharma’s Centers of Research Excellence (CoRE) – our global network of clinicians and dermatology key opinion leaders.” So, if you’ve got a potential treatment for skin diseases including Androgenic Alopecia/Alopecia Areata, or you just want to read more, visit the Engage with Us page on the LEO S&TH website.
Currently, there are several interesting partners working with the LEO Science & Tech Hub. Among them, Novopyxis is developing a drug-delivery device aimed at treating Alopecia Areata. The technology is described as a “hand held aerosol device” designed to administer deep penetration of topical treatments into the skin. This would potentially nullify the use of painful needle injections to deliver therapeutics or steroid injections. Another startup working with the S&TH, Elektrofi, is also developing drug delivery solutions. Elektrofi’s technology seeks to administer high doses of antibody-based therapies in small volume within seconds. Apparently, antibody formulations become mostly unusable at high concentrations due to high viscosity. This new approach could present a solution. To create these formulations Elektrofi utilizes a novel therapeutic microparticle suspension system dubbed “Elektroject.”
It sounds like there will be many interesting developments to come from the LEO Science & Tech Hub. I personally find the advancement of drug delivery a fascinating subject, mainly because of all the potential applications it has. I wanted to find out a bit more on the progress of LEO’s efforts at treating AA and the potential of a program for AGA, so I reached out to the Vice President of the LEO Science & Tech Hub, Michael Sierra. Michael was kind enough to offer some further commentary about LEO’s work in alopecia below.
Q&A with Michael Sierra, VP of LEO Science & Tech Hub:
FT: How did the LEO Science & Tech Hub come to be and what is your role there?
MS: The LEO Science & Tech Hub was established as LEO Pharma’s R&D
breakthrough innovation arm. We are dedicated to identifying, developing,
and funding innovative solutions that improve the lives of people with
skin diseases. It was founded in 2016 as a catalyst to transform
cutting-edge science and disruptive technologies into solutions for
improving the lives of people with skin diseases by collaborating,
exploring and investing in breakthrough innovations. We currently have
investments in startups and research collaborations with many academic
institutions including MGH, BWH and Mt. Sinai. We are an agile group of
scientific experts with an entrepreneurial mindset and a vision of how to
give patients control over their skin disease by monitoring, diagnosing,
and predicting their disease and flares. If we are able to predict, we can
prevent disease rather than just treating the symptoms. The LEO Science &
Tech Hub is based in Kendall Square, Cambridge (USA).
FT: What is the status of LEO Science & Tech Hub’s program for Alopecia
MS: The LEO Science & Tech Hub sponsors the NAAF, so we are very involved in identifying new potential opportunities to treat the disease. The current
programs for Alopecia Areata are being developed by LEO Pharma’s R&D
organization which the LEO Science & Tech Hub is a part. LEO Pharma will
continue clinical trials for topical drug development of, for example, JAK
inhibitors for AA and we are also looking into developing systemic
treatments with biologics.
FT: How are things coming along for your new startup Novopyxis?
MS: We have an active collaboration with the startup with the aim of
progressing their device development. We did have a board meeting last
week and things are going as expected. Unfortunately, we are not able to
comment on this any further due to the nature of the agreement.
FT: Is there also a program at the Science & Tech Hub for Androgenic
Alopecia? Any current drug candidates?
MS: At the present time we are focused in Alopecia Areata, Universalis and
Totalis. Which are driven by an autoimmune inflammation. As we gain more
information on the disease and the drivers of disease, we may identify
opportunities/technologies that will permit us to identify treatments for
hair growth for Androgenic Alopecia. We currently have not identified any
drug candidates but are always looking for new opportunities.
FT: Anything else you’d like to share or think my readers should know at
MS: LEO understands the severe impact of AA on quality of life and we are
committed to continue our discussions with NAAF and AA patients to
strengthening our understanding of patient needs and how we can develop
new valuable treatments.
LEO engages in developing Patient Reported Outcome assessments tools
because we recognize the importance of showing patient benefits of
treatment to establish the critical need to improve patient access to
LEO recognizes the large unmet medical need for effective and safe
treatments for both adult and pediatric AA patients.
Thank you Michael, for speaking with us.
Updated on November 21, 2017
It was recently announced that Rophe Pharma will enter the hair growth market with a repurposed drug candidate. Robert Gadimian, CEO of Rophe Pharma, has put out a press release this month pertaining to the development of his hair growth compound RPHE-7193. See below for text of press release.
Updated on October 29, 2017
I’ve had many readers inquire lately about the current progress of RiverTown Therapeutics Inc.’s RT1640. RTI’s therapy for hair regeneration, RT1640, is a topical medication composed of minoxidil, cyclosporine A, and a novel molecule called RT175. The company debuted some impressive hair growth photos on this site last year. The question that’s been on a lot of people’s minds since then – “how’s things coming along at RiverTown?” I recently caught up with David Weinstein MD PhD, the CSO/CMO of RiverTown Therapeutics Inc. to give you all a clearer picture of what they’ve been working on and what the future may look like for this company of interest.
Updated on October 29, 2017
Just when we thought we knew of every company in the world working on hair growth treatments…
With all of the scientific articles on hair biology that continually get published from Asian establishments there was bound to be a few companies springing up at some point. I’m happy to say I’ve got 4 new companies to discuss in this article, most of which have not been previously discussed online. I will make one small disclaimer about these companies, they’re almost all still in the preclinical phase (have not entered phase 1 yet), so they have work to do. What’s most important is scientists from across the globe are working on this thing called hair growth. Let’s see what’s going on for hair research in the world’s largest continent. Read More
Updated on September 30, 2017
Welcome to a new edition of Weekly Thoughts. I’ve got some details to share on how things are going at HairClone these days, as well as notions on two promising studies on genes involved in hair growth. One of the studies has had the internet ablaze lately with KROX talk. It’s surely a wonderful discovery, though it may be some time before we hear more about it. The other gene therapy discussed is a bit more of a surprise. Let’s see what’s going on.
The HairClone Zone
Over a month ago, a video was released through a local Texas news station detailing the current progress of HairClone. The video features Dr. Ken Williams, a clinical partner of HairClone, discussing the option of administering HairClone’s new technique on one of his patients. Video seen below: Read More
Updated on May 18, 2017
Two days ago, I received an email from one of my readers which informed me that Follicum had just made an announcement about important developments that would be of interest to me. Upon further investigation, I found the Follicum website (only on the “Swedish” content) had put out a press release pertaining to the results of their candidate FOL-005 in its latest phase 1/2a trial. Read More
Updated on June 30, 2017
It is good to be back for another Weekly Thoughts. This edition is headlined by an anti-aging technology from The Netherlands that has shown interesting regenerative effects on mice. I even got some exclusive info on the potential of this technology to be applied to hair growth to share with you. Also, we get an update on how Replicel’s treatment has faired on people’s scalps five years after the injections. And while we are still looking forward to an update on a particular hair cream coming out of Turkey, I have some good news about another cosmetic hair cream that may be of interest. Read More