Samumed, the Biotech Startup that Targets Stem Cells to Cure Hair Loss

Samumed is the name of a biotech startup based in San Diego. It was founded in 2008, and the company has since then focused on developing tissue-level regeneration and finding a cure for degenerative diseases. CEO Osman Kibar is a billionaire who has his mind set on reversing the effects of aging. One step in that mission is focusing on curing baldness. And it seems like the company is succeeding.

What is Samumed?

This company has already received hundreds of millions of dollars in funding thanks to its promise to find a way to erase wrinkles, regrow hair and even regrow cartilage in bad joints. Samumed could be the first company to actually slow down aging. Considering the secrecy around its science and research, and other biotech scams like the one of Theranos, the blood testing company that was valued at $9 billion but turned out to be nothing, people have been skeptical of Samumed as well.

But the owners of Samumed know all this and say that even they thought the technology was too good to be true. However, even though the company hasn’t revealed exactly how things work, they are transparent with their data. Any product will also have to be approved by the FDA before entering the market.

How Does it Work?

In the body, there are progenitor stem cells, which repair certain organs. The repairing process is initiated by a set of proteins called the WNT pathway. This group of proteins is in charge of regulating cells, so if you adjust the amount of certain WNT genes, you can trigger the stem cells into repairing certain organs. As we grow older, our levels of WNT go down. This is why, for example, older people often get osteoporosis. And that is because the WNT activity in out body doesn’t produce enough bone cells.

This is the function Samumed is planning on targeting in curing baldness. It has already tested its topical treatment for androgenetic alopecia, the pattern baldness that most commonly affects middle aged men. The company is hoping that the treatment will activate the WNT pathways that are related to hair growth, and make dormant hair follicles wake up again and start producing hair. The treatment is called SM04554.

Samumed claims to be able to reverse some of the most common effects of aging – bad joints, wrinkles and hair loss.

Studies on Efficacy

Last year, Samumed presented a study in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. In the test, researchers divided 300 men into three test groups. One received a .15% dose of the treatment, one received a .25% dose of the treatment and one was a placebo group. SM04554 works much like other hair loss treatments on the market – you apply a topical cream on the scalp.

The cream was applied once a day for 90 days. 45 days after the treatment stopped, researchers analyzed the results and realized SM04554 was indeed very effective. Both the groups that used the real treatment saw an increase in hair count – but the results were more efficient in the group that used the smaller dose.

The men that were given 0.15% saw an increase in hair growth of about 10%, while the men that were given the 0.25% dose saw an increase of about 7%. The placebo group kept losing hair. Important to note is that this was a relatively short test period. But still, subjects continued to see results even after the treatment period ended. Even better – researchers observed no side effects.

So, What is Next?

Samumed is currently testing seven different drugs in human trials. The company plans on having their products available on the market by the end of the year. The WNT technology could be efficient in many different areas. Most notably, Samumed plans on using it to find treatments for colon cancer, degenerative-disc disease, tendinopathy and wrinkle eradication.

If it is true that Samumed’s drugs can reverse common aging effects like hair loss, wrinkles and bad knees, they would be the first of their kind. We should know by the end of the year whether the products will pass FDA regulations. Until then, go the traditional way and live a healthy life. For now, that is the best we can do to slow down aging.

Text by Emma von Zeipel

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