Histogen Raises $10M for Regenerative Hair Growth, Other Treatments

Xconomy San Diego — 

San Diego’s Histogen, which saw a group of angel investors pull out of a deal in early 2009, is announcing today that it successfully closed a $10 million Series A round and already has opened a Series B venture round with commitments from some investors.

The life sciences company, which is developing regenerative medicine treatments based on newborn cells grown under embryonic conditions, says investors in its Series A round include Secure Medical, Leonard Lavin, Lordship Ventures, and Angus Mitchell.

Histogen had opened its Series A financing in May 2008, but the early stage startup was dealt a potentially crippling blow in early 2009. A crosstown rival, Carlsbad, CA-based SkinMedica, filed a patent infringement lawsuit as Histogen was near closing on $2.4 million in additional funding. The unexpected litigation caused the deal to collapse, forcing Histogen to lay off all 36 of its employees, and sent founding CEO Gail Naughton scrambling for new sources of funding.

The litigation between SkinMedica and Histogen has continued apace since then, although the case is confined to its ReGenica line of skincare products, according to Histogen spokeswoman Eileen Brandt. “With the exciting data we have gained over the past year, particularly in hair and cancer applications, Histogen has regained a strong position with investors and potential partners despite the lawsuit,” Brandt told me in an e-mail yesterday.

Histogen also moved recently into a new facility on Sorrento Valley Road that will enable the company to expand manufacturing for its upcoming clinical trials, and later commercial production, Brandt said. The company currently has 17 employees.

In Histogen’s statement, CEO Naughton said, “With the Series A completed, we are excited to build on the momentum Histogen has created over the past two years, and further advance the Company’s rich product portfolio. We have made significant strides in several important research areas, advanced partnership discussions, and are on track to reach key value inflection points in 2011.”

Histogen says it is scheduled to begin an early stage clinical trial of its Hair Stimulating Complex (HSC) in Singapore in the spring of 2011. The company hopes to also begin a clinical study of its soluble human extracellular matrix (hECM) for the treatment of carcinomatosis, a rapidly progressing and debilitating cancer, mid-year.