New Funding for Genetic Hair Loss JAK Inhibitor Treatment Research

NASDAQ-listed clinical-stage specialty pharmaceutical company Aclaris Therapeutics Inc. has announced a $20 million stock purchase agreement in order to increase funding for its innovative hair loss research.

Aclaris TherapeuticsThe private deal with a group of institutional accredited investors sees the company selling almost 1.1 million shares at $18.50 per share, and is expected to close tomorrow. This is the latest step forward following a journey that has so far seen Aclaris forming a joint partnership with Rigel Pharmaceuticals Inc. in order to pursue potentially groundbreaking janus kinase (JAK) inhibitor hair loss treatments.

In April 2016 the company also declared its 'strong commitment' to developing this research into viable products after acquiring another pharmaceutical entity, Vixen Therapeutics - the company started by leading hair loss researcher Dr Angela Christiano, who held the intellectual property rights to certain JAK inhibitor compounds.

Addressing 'unmet needs'

Describing itself in press materials as being 'focused on identifying, developing, and commercialising innovative and differentiated drugs to address significant unmet needs in dermatology', Aclaris hopes to revolutionise the way a number of conditions, most significantly genetic hair loss, is treated. Net proceeds from the share deal will go towards funding the company's research and development activities, in this area.

Researchers at various prestigious American universities including Columbia and Yale have had tremendous successes whilst using JAK inhibitors to treat autoimmune hair loss from severe forms of Alopecia Areata in clinical trials. Despite this being the initial area of exploration for Aclaris through its partnership with Rigel, the Pennsylvania-based company now appears to be leading the way in developing JAK inhibitor treatments for male pattern baldness and female pattern hair loss.

JAK inhibitors are a type of medication used to impede certain janus kinase enzymes within the body. These enzymes are named after the two-faced Roman god, Janus - the god of beginnings and endings - as they each have two domains, as explained in a 2004 research paper published in the Genome Biology journal. By interfering with the JAK/STAT pathway, these drugs have shown they have the potential to extend the active 'anagen' phase of the hair growth cycle.

Not available yet - but other options are

Although JAK inhibitor medications such as ruxolitinib (brand name: Jakafi) and tofacitinib (brand name: Xeljanz) are already available as prescription drugs, they are not yet cleared for the treatment of hair loss. Ruxolitinib is better known as a treatment for myelofibrosis, certain cancers and inflammation-related diseases, whilst tofacitinib is predominantly used to treat rheumatoid arthritis.

Dr. Neal Walker, the President and CEO of Aclaris, is scheduled to present at three investor conferences this month with an audio stream of each talk being made available both live as-it-happens and for two weeks after each event, on the company's website.

Walker will speak at the Jefferies 2016 Healthcare Conference on 8th June, William Blair's 35th Annual Growth Stock Conference on 15th June and the JMP Securities Life Sciences Conference on 22nd June. It is hoped that updates on JAK inhibitor hair loss treatments will form part of these presentations at at least two of the three appearances.

Developing new medications for anything can take many years due to the rigorous testing needed to ensure drugs are safe and effective in a wide range of people and over specific periods of time, so it can take a long time between clinical trials and these treatments becoming available.

There are, however, two clinically-proven genetic hair loss treatments that have been recognised by both the UK's and USA's medical regulatory bodies, being both MHRA licensed and FDA approved.

It is important for people worried about hair loss now to understand that there are options available to them and a consultation with a specialist can help to provide, not only a professional diagnosis of their condition.

It can also assure recommendations for appropriate treatments, not to mention the reassurance and peace of mind that can comes from having an expert answer their questions about such a personal issue which can be hard to otherwise discuss.
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The Belgravia Centre

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