Histogen Trial Shows 73% Increase in Hair After One Year and One Injection
Histogen, a regenerative medicine company launched in 2007, has announced an encouraging follow-up to their pilot study from last year.
And it is good. Trialists were given only one application of Histogen’s Hair Stimulating Complex (HSC), and in some cases gained 73% more hair in the application area.
HSC seems to be a relabeled version of their ReGenica product line, and is essentially a soup of fibroblast cell secretions– the same growth factor-rich cells that produce the extracellular matrix (ECM) components used by companies like ACell. Histogen claims a “proprietary bioreactor” that coaxes cells into embryonic states via “low gravity and oxygen” is used to generate their product. Whatever the source, one application of a product yielding this much after a year is very big news. This is your own hair with no surgery and no lotions.
During this study, patients received four types of scalp injections:
- One placebo injection
- One regular HSC injection
- One dermabraded area with regular HSC
- One area with a higher concentration of HSC
Dermabrasion is known to call growth factors to the wound site, and is one of the guiding techniques of similar-aiming Follica. In this case, however, the higher concentration of HSC on non-dermabraded areas reportedly performed the best, with both hair thickness and density increasing. Existing hairs looked better, new hairs popped up where none existed. It’s not clear yet what upper limits may exist with multiple applications or further variations of solution strength. It’s possible that more secret sauce gives even more hair.
Histogen founder and CEO, Gail Naughton, has been extremely transparent and forthright in comparison to other biotechnology companies focusing on hair (I’m looking at you, Intercytex and Follica). This may be necessitated due the funding woes of bootstrapping, but the benefit is mutual and her plainspoken rapport is quickly developing an eager audience.
Naughton is also clever enough to redirect studies and launch goals to areas of the world that don’t have as much regulatory tape and cost; this study was in Honduras, the next will be double the size at 50 patients in Singapore come June, and the last should add over 200 patients from Hong Kong, India and South Korea to that list in spring 2011.
Pilot trials helmed by Dr. Craig Ziering are planned for the US, but only for topical application ala Rogaine, not injections beneath the scalp as in this study. Given Naughton’s confidence with HSC’s safety profile in injectable form, it stands to reason that these trials would be more of a regulatory foot in America’s door, and we baldies will be taking an Asian vacation.
Histogen has had a rocky road this past year, being sued by dreamkillers SkinMedica, who claim Naughton is reusing technology from her previous company they had purchased patents from. Naughton disputes this claim, but the verdict is still out. In the meantime, this spooked the initial investors, who withdrew completely, taking all 36 employee’s payroll with them. 20 employees then volunteered to stay unpaid, presumably for equity and out of confidence in the company’s direction. There are some casual reports that $4.4 million was raised to sustain the employees, and that additional funds have been secured for the following trials, but this has not been confirmed.
More results from the trial are expected on May 5-8 at the Society for Investigative Dermatology Annual Meeting, and you can read the press release here.