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Hair Today, Hair Tomorrow

BIOTECH: Stemson Signs Deal with Aderans to Address Hair Loss

LA JOLLA – Hair loss is top of mind for Stemson Therapeutics.

The pre-clinical cell therapy company focused on hair loss in February announced a major technological advance, clearing the path for its proprietary hair rejuvenation solution and move it toward human clinical trials.

Stemson reported the successful creation of human hair follicles in “humanized mice” using engineered follicular units. Stemson’s development team has demonstrated that an all-human bioengineered cell solution can generate brand new human hair follicles in human skin, said company CEO Geoff Hamilton.

In March, Stemson signed an exclusive hair regeneration licensing deal with Aderans Company, a leader in hair loss-focused treatments and services like hair transplants.
Aderans, the parent company of Bosley and HAIRCLUB, has given Stemson the global rights to research, develop and commercialize hair regeneration therapeutic products based on Aderans’ proprietary hair regeneration cell therapy technology.

Although no financial details were shared, the agreement allows Stemson to use Aderans proprietary work, integrate the technology into its existing, complementary hair loss cell therapy development pipeline and provide multiple products for patients experiencing hair loss.

Geoff Hamilton
CEO
Stemson Therapeutics
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“The Stemson team is passionate about our mission to bring highly effective new treatments to many forms of hair loss where new solutions are desperately needed,” Hamilton said. “We are on the precipice of a new era for hair loss therapies with the development of cell therapy approaches that hold the promise to restore functional follicle tissue to grow hair.”

The Roots of Stemson

Stemson was founded by Alexey Terskikh, Ph.D., an an associate professor at Sanford Burnham Prebys. Terskikh demonstrated functional hair follicle cells grown from human stem cells can grow hair when combined with mouse cells and transplanted in mouse skin. His research focuses on molecular mechanisms underlying self-renewal and differentiation of neural stem cells – which led to his groundbreaking discovery.

In 2021, Stemson completed a $15 million Series A financing led by DCVC-Bio and supported by Genoa Ventures, AbbVie Ventures and other investors; bringing its total funds raised to more than $22 million.

“Since then, Stemson has been expanding our scientific staff and management team as well as developing technological solutions for hair regeneration and conducting experiments in support of our iPSC hair loss program,” Hamilton said.

From the company’s start, Stemson’s development team has focused on demonstrating that an all-human bioengineered cell solution can generate brand new human hair follicles in human skin – heady news for the estimated 80 million men, women and children in the U.S. who experience hair loss.

Despite the $10 billion market for hair loss today, there are no existing therapeutic solutions capable of rejuvenating shrinking follicles, nor any that generate new hair follicles to replace lost hair, Hamilton said.

Meanwhile, “hair is the most transplanted tissue or organ out there, bar none,” says Stemson Chief Scientific Officer Kevin D’Amour, with about 200,000 per year in the U.S. alone.

Kevin D’Amour
CSO
Stemson Therapeutics

But transplants are not an ideal answer, says D’Amour, who has more than 20 years of experience in cell therapy R&D with specific background in stem cell biology, stem cell differentiation, gene editing, immunology and cell therapy development.

“The biggest issue with hair and transplants is the shortage of follicles,” D’Amour said. “In a traditional transplant, you are removing hair follicles from the back of the head and moving them to the front. Ultimately, this is not a good solution because the relocated follicles are not new.”

Stemson is currently developing an induced pluripotent stem cells-derived autologous cell therapy to regenerate healthy hair follicles to go along with the work on the humanized mice using engineered follicular units.

Treating Different Types of Alopecia

D’Amour says the engineered follicular units are designed to provide an unlimited source of hair follicle replacements capable of treating a range of hair loss indications, including Androgenetic Alopecia, Scarring Alopecia and chemotherapy-induced Alopecia.

Aderans America Holdings, Inc., based out of Beverly Hills with global headquarters in Tokyo, has been developing solutions for hair loss since its founding in 1968. Aderans has previously conducted Phase 2 clinical stage cell therapy hair regeneration testing in the U.S. on 445 human patients to treat early-to-mid stage Alopecia.

Aderans’ proprietary hair regeneration platform is a cell therapy system that utilizes patient-derived hair and skin cells to durably rejuvenate shrinking hair follicles in patients with Androgenetic Alopecia by repopulating functional hair follicle cells into early-to-mid stage hair loss areas.

Initial clinical data suggest a single dose of functional hair follicle cells into the target scalp area can safely produce long lasting and durable hair growth results.

Stemson intends to leverage that technology as it continues development of iPSC-derived autologous cell therapy to regenerate healthy hair follicles and expand the pursuit of multiple cell therapy product concepts to address a broad range of hair loss indications, Hamilton said.

The company’s greatest challenge has been finding and attracting the best talent in the industry to dedicate themselves to developing hair loss solutions, he said.

“Unfortunately, hair loss is not a field attracting much industry development, funding or attention from the best minds in therapeutics development, even though hair loss represents an enormous unmet medical need and truly interesting scientific challenges,” he said.

“Because there is so little work being done on hair loss therapeutics, we have had to attract the majority of our incredible team members from outside the field and have them learn about hair biology and hair loss pathology while at Stemson.”

Stemson Therapeutics, Inc.
FOUNDED: 2018
CO-FOUNDERS: Alexey Terskikh and Geoff Hamilton
CEO: Geoff Hamilton
HEADQUARTERS: San Diego/La Jolla
BUSINESS: Biotech/Preclinical stage cell therapy
GROWTH: Company has added 20 employees in last 2 years.
EMPLOYEES: 31
WEBSITE: stemson.com
CONTACT: 858-952-0444 or info@stemsontx.com
SOCIAL IMPACT: Company’s findings may provide help for those suffering the psychological effects of hair loss, which studies show include depression, anxiety and social withdrawal.
NOTABLE: Stemson Therapeutics in February reported the successful creation of human hair follicles in humanized mice using engineered follicular units, demonstrating that an all-human bioengineered cell solution can generate brand new human hair follicles in human skin.

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