Updated on December 3, 2017
Quark Pharmaceuticals: WCHR2017 Presentation
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.