The Series A was led by DCVC Bio, a life science venture firm with offices in the Silicon Valley and San Francisco. Additionally, Genoa Ventures, AbbVie Ventures and others participated in the financing round.
Since the company’s founding in 2018, Stemson has raised a total of $22.5 million in funding to date. This new infusion of funding will help Stemson advance its genetic platform to create a breakthrough in the ability to regenerate hair cells to treat hair loss.
Genetic Engineering Platform
The company’s name, Stemson, is a nod to its core science — stem cells. It also alludes to a Bible story about Sampson, a warrior who lost his superhuman strength after Delilah cut off his hair.
With this in mind, the company’s CEO explained how their technology has the capacity to tackle an issue that impacts approximately 20% of the population. Hair loss happens as a result of hair follicle cells dying or degenerating over time which can result from scalp trauma, chemotherapy or genetic hair loss.
What Stemson’s therapy seeks to do is generate a net new set of hair follicles that can restore hair growth over time. Up until now, previous therapies include hair transplantation, follicle stimulus injections or pharmaceuticals that temporarily slow hair loss.
“It would give [patients] an option to restore their hair which does not exist today,” Hamilton said.
Through its induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) based technology, Stemson would use the patient’s own cells and leverage industry-standard procedures to generate human iPSCs.
“There’s lots of companies developing therapies on iPSCs, but they are turning iPSC into other cell types in the body,” Hamilton said. “For example, brain cells to treat Parkinson’s disease or pancreatic cells to treat type one diabetes or other cell types for other conditions. We’re the only ones working on turning iPSCs into hair follicles.”
Stemson’s iPSC technology has shown successful pre-clinical results in small animal models and now has its sights set on an optimized solution for human skin structure environment in larger animal models. The company currently has 13 employees and plans on doubling in size over the next year with its primary focus on building its R&D team, Hamilton said.Financing Early-Stage Cos.
In addition to the early-stage financing, Stemson added Kiersten Stead, Ph.D., co-managing partner at DCVC Bio and Jenny Rooke, Ph.D., managing director at Genoa Ventures to its board of directors.
For Rooke, she was impressed with “Stemson’s vision to blend biology and technology and apply it beyond traditional ‘biotech.’” Her Bay-area firm focuses on financing early-stage, technology-driven “category-defying” companies and Stemson’s solution filled a market gap while expanding the notion of biotechnology beyond traditional drugs and therapies.
“By combining exciting advancements in iPSCs with novel technologies in materials and data sciences, Stemson exemplifies the kind of chimeric teams Genoa seeks to support on their journey to become a category-defining company,” Rooke said.
According to a recent report by the San Diego Union-Tribune, venture funding for local startups topped $2 billion in the second quarter of 2021. As a scientist and investor, Rooke looks for companies with a clear vision, solid science-backed data and in the case of Stemson, a novel solution that was well protected through patents.
CEO: Geoff Hamilton
HEADQUARTERS: Torrey Pines
BUSINESS: Pre-clinical stage cell therapy company with a mission to cure hair loss by leveraging the regenerative power of InducedA Pluripotent Stem Cells (iPSC).
EMPLOYEES: 13 employees
NOTABLE: Stemson’s total funding to date is $22.5M