Updated on July 23, 2017
Asia: Hair Growth R&D
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.
1) Taisho Pharmaceutical – This company is mostly unknown to the online hair community, though it’s not completely a secret, as Taisho is one of the sponsors of the World Congress for Hair Research 2017. On the WCHR2017 scientific program you will notice Taisho sponsoring a seminar right in the center of the program layout. Besides having greater notoriety, Taisho also differs from other companies mentioned in this article because its therapy candidate has progressed all the way to a phase 2a trial. TS-133 is the name of Taisho’s therapy and it is listed as a topical medication. What is not clear at this time (and this goes for most others on this list) is whether this drug is being developed for alopecia areata or androgenic alopecia. I have a guess. To reiterate, this is a guess, but I will give the one reason why I made it. Let’s go back to the scientific program I mentioned above. Now, find that Taisho Pharma box in the middle again and take a look at who the speaker is. It’s Dr. Amos Gilhar. A simple search of his name will bring back many publications and studies on alopecia areata, a subject that the Dr. is possibly most well known for. It’s quite possible that Taisho, who has an alopecia drug in trial, has sponsored the seminar with Dr. Gilhar for a reason; meaning their drug is a therapy for alopecia areata. We’ll have to wait until the WCHR to hear more.
2) Hyundai Pharmaceutical Co. – Pretty sure this is not the same company that sells Sonatas and Elantras, but ya never know. I’m most interested in their HTB-005, the company’s candidate for alopecia. Besides the information displayed on Hyundai’s pipeline, there is not much else known about this therapy. One encouraging sign is HTB-005’s mechanism of action is listed as “New” in the pipeline chart. This is where it would typically say something like “PGD2r antagonist” or “Wnt agonist.” It’s most likely for proprietary reasons that Hyundai has left this information out. Like many other drugs on Hyundai’s pipeline, HTB-005 is an IMD or “incrementally modified drug.” A simple definition of an IMD is a “known Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient with modifications made to the drug product.” This means HTB-005 could be derived from any kind of modified drug, not just a drug which was previously used for hair growth. The chart also depicts this therapy has made it through the “proof of concept” stage and is ready to enter a phase 1 clinical trial. Intriguing stuff.
3) Kuhnil Pharmaceutical – The R&D pipeline of Kuhnil Pharma shows not just one, but two candidates for hair loss – KI1104 and KI1105. The wording of “hair loss” as the indication makes me tend to believe these two drugs are being developed for androgenic alopecia. KI1104 is listed at the preclinical stage and KI1105 is a step behind that in the research stage. Both of these therapies are listed as “modified formulation/improved drugs.” This is slightly different wording than “IMD” which we saw earlier, but may mean the same thing. I’m hoping that these two drug candidates are modified from drugs which we are unfamiliar with. Nothing like new hair growth science, ya know?
4) Kunshan RiboQuark Pharmaceutical Technology Co. – This long named entity is the joint venture between Suzhou Ribo Life Science Co. and Quark Pharmaceuticals. Commonly referred to as just “RiboQuark”, the company is developing RNAi therapies for both androgenic and chemotherapy induced alopecia. RNAi stands for RNA interference therapy. RiboQuark has one therapy listed on its pipeline for alopecia, RB-AG010, while Quark shows therapies for both of the alopecia types in its pipeline. Don’t worry about the semantics though, it’s all the same stuff. This research is perhaps the most interesting on this list because we actually know what the technology is based on. It’s a RNAi therapy, and the CEO of Quark Pharma, Dr. Daniel Zurr, has elucidated “We know how to deliver the siRNA to the kidney,…….and even into the hair follicles — to suppress the antigen receptor involved in hair loss.” Sounds clever. siRNA stands for small interfering RNA, also known as silencing RNA, which is essentially a therapy that blocks or silences the expression of certain genes that would cause non-desirable biological conditions. What’s even more interesting, these two therapies are supposedly being developed as cosmetic products in China. The only thing keeping me from flying to China to try to peak in the company’s windows is the fact that this technology is not quite in the preclinical stage yet. So, it will be a little while, but I do look forward to learning more about a precise and cutting edge technology like RiboQuark’s.
Pretty cool, huh? The industry just got a little bigger. Hopefully this will inspire even more ambition from all of the known hair growth players to keep at their goals. I certainly was happy and intrigued to discover these companies and I hope that this knowledge has made you happy too. With all of these companies and so many different approaches being implemented we are ensured some very interesting developments over the next few years.