Cure for Baldness Stalled Amid Legal Wrangling

Last Updated Jan 13, 2011 5:08 PM EST

A potential cure for baldness is tied up in a lawsuit in California. Histogen told Xconomy that even though the suit has not been resolved, it plans to release at the end of this month the results of a one-year follow up to an earlier study that showed hair growth in 85 percent of patients.

The drug, formerly called ReGenica but now named Hair Stimulating Complex, is:
... an injectable liquid product made by culturing cells from newborns and collecting growth factors, so-called wnt proteins, and other molecules that the cells secrete. In mice, wnt proteins are involved in triggering stem cells in the skin to form hair ...
However, Histogen's entire future depends on a ruling from a South California federal judge. The company was sued by SkinMedica, claiming that Histogen CEO Gail Naughton is using SkinMedica's trade secrets. SkinMedica bought a drug called NouriCel from Advanced Tissue Sciences, the suit claims. Naughton was the founder of ATS. When she left the company to create Histogen she hired people who had trade secret knowledge of SkinMedica's newly acquired property, the suit alleges.

When the suit was filed, Histogen's investors panicked and pulled their funding. Xconomy:
The patent suit, which was filed a year ago by Carlsbad, CA-based SkinMedica, hit just as Histogen was preparing to report early results of its experimental treatment to stimulate hair regrowth among 24 men with male-pattern baldness.

... the prospect of costly litigation prompted a group of angel investors to withdraw their planned $2.4 million investment, and Histogen was forced to lay off all 36 employees.
You can read more details about the drug here and here.

If Histogen can find funding -- and if it prevails in court -- the company plans a larger trial of HSC in Singapore.

Image by Flickr user Mike Burns, CC.

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