Wake Forest Trialing a New Topical For Hair Growth

(Originally Published July 15, 2015)

I was wondering when Wake Forest was going to get in the hair game.

They have one of the most advanced regenerative medicine programs in the country. According to the Wake Forest Website they are currently gearing up for a clinical trial on a “topical investigational medication” for hair (Update: since this article was written the webpage was taken down). At the bottom of the page there is still a link button to sign up and participate in the study, but according to members of the hair forums the trial is already filled up. That’s not awful news. WF should be all set to go ahead and start this trial then. In other recent news…

US Military holds patent for Hair Regeneration?

The Wake Forest news coincides with the recent online buzz about a patent that was filed by the US Military for hair growth. Sounds kinda funny doesn’t it? At least it makes me smile. The patent is found here Skin substitutes and methods for hair follicle neogenesis. The inventors listed for the patent are Rajesh Thangapazham, Thomas N. Darling, and Shaowei Li. It seems that the Uniformed Services University is the major backing entity for the research and if you visit the dermatology page on their website you can read a nice little write up about Rajesh Thangapazham Ph.D down the left hand column. One memorable quote from the write up “Thangapazham and colleagues have shown de novo hair follicle neogenesis in skin substitutes made entirely with cultured human cells.” Giggity.

Tieing it all in

So, the follicle neogenesis patent was invented by Rajesh Thangapazham working under a health division of the US Military. The US Military has ties to Wake Forest University for the development of regenerative medicine as reported here. Rajesh Thangapazham has also been known to be connected with Wake Forest University here. This has lead people in the online forums to believe that the study going on at Wake Forest for the hair growth topical is related to the patent filed for follicle neogenesis. I don’t see the correlation, though, this seems like a pretty far “reach” to me.

I’m fairly certain that the Thangapazham patent has nothing to do with the the study at Wake Forest. The wording in the patent does not sound like a topical formulation at all. Another theory is that the topical being tested at Wake Forest is actually Samumed’s SM04554.  Either situation appears to be possible. It’s also very likely that the topical is something that has been developed in-house by Wake Forest’s hair program. But to be clear, this is all speculation at the moment.

Joseph’s Thoughts

First off, it’s a good thing that there is government-funded hair research going on. Mostly, because they have a virtually unlimited amount of funding, and hence, resources to develop a technology. The other companies that are being independently funded can still be successful, and may the best company make it to the finlish line (commercializaton) first. As far as the Wake Forest trial, having another next-gen topical in the works feels good. Between Samumed, Follicum, and potentially a PDG2r antagonist if they make one,  there’s some great technology coming. We will know shortly which topical is being trialed at Wake Forest. Also, thank God for smart doctors coming out of India.

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