Few life sciences companies have gotten as much mileage from a pilot trial that enrolled two dozen patients as San Diego’s Histogen, a startup developing a variety of therapies derived from human cells that are grown in the laboratory. On the other hand, we have discovered at Xconomy that the appetite for news about potential treatments for baldness is unusually high.
Histogen has announced a one-year follow-up study of 24 patients who participated in an experiment using its Hair Stimulating Complex, or HSC, shows “statistically significant” new hair growth. Participants in the study, which was done in Honduras, also showed a statistically significant increase in hair density.
The latest findings basically extend results that Histogen reported last July from the study, in which HSC, which consists of certain proteins and other molecules secreted by human fibroblast cells grown in a laboratory culture, was injected just below the scalp. The persistence is what’s significant in the latest study, Histogen founder and CEO, Gail Naughton, tells me by phone.
“Most of the experts asked, ‘How long will it last before hairs drop off?’ ” she says. Naughton adds that currently approved treatments for baldness, such as finasteride (Propecia) or monoxidil (Rogaine), must be used every day to prevent hair loss. She maintains that Histogen’s treatment appears to have some lasting effect, at least in 85 percent of these patients.
Histogen laid off all 36 of its employees last year after its fund-raising efforts were knocked into a hat when a cross-town rival, Carlsbad, CA-based SkinMedica, filed a patent infringement lawsuit against the startup. With the case still pending, Naughton says Histogen managed to raise additional funding needed to keep a core group of 12 employees working, and to support the follow-up research. Since my last update three months ago, Naughton says Histogen also has gotten a commitment for substantial funding needed to underwrite additional research in Singapore.
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