Follicum, the Swedish biotech startup, has an exciting hair loss treatment going through clinical trials. Today we look at their related project aimed at treating diabetes.
The business was established in 2011 in Sweden, 7 years after the founders discovered while conducting research on arteriosclerosis, a modified protein that increased hair growth in mice.
The early days were a story of the struggle to raise funding and get momentum but progress was steady. In 2013 they got a listing on the Swedish small-cap exchange, Spotlight Stock Market. Since then they have taken their lead product, named FOL-005, through several of the stages necessary if they are to successfully bring a product to market.
Towards the end of last year, Follicum announced the results of their Phase II clinical trials. Those results were positive and the dramatic cover image for this article was startling evidence of their drug doing its work. FOL-005 can be seen marked red and connecting the cell layers. They are currently seeking a commercial partner to run further tests to improve efficacy.
There is a link between hair loss and diabetes. Hyperglycemia, a known precursor to diabetes, results in vascular impairment that can often lead to hair loss. Which makes hair loss a visible early warning sign of possible early-stage type 2 diabetes.
Follicum’s success with FOL-005 has seen them go on to leverage some of the other results they noted from their research into peptides. They had noted that their class of peptides improved the ability of some crucial pancreatic cells to protect themselves from attack by the immune system – a feature of type 1 diabetes. They also saw that the same peptides increased insulin production, a combination that saw them enthusiastically preparing a new drug, FOL-014, to improve the options available to the estimated 500 million sufferers worldwide. A ready market for a new treatment with costs to global healthcare estimated at circa $2.5trillion.
Partnering with one of the world’s leading diabetes research groups, Follicum have also joined a consortium of major players in the industry. That elevated, broader view of the industry in which they are operating has seen them distill their proposed offering. FOL-014 is now expected to be offered to address the various, serious, complications that arise from diabetes. By slowing down the advance of the disease they expect to be able to reduce the number of heart attacks and strokes, kidney and nerve damage… the list of unpleasant symptoms bought on by the effects of diabetes is a long one.
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It would seem Follicum have an ongoing battle to raise the funds necessary to take their products through trials, but so far all their results have been delivered on time and, more importantly, on target against predictions.
Of course, as the trials grow in size the funds required get larger and the risk becomes ever more acute. We sincerely hope that the great results achieved to date provide all the encouragement needed to see both of these important treatments through to license.
If you would like to read more about Follicum and their work, please click here to see an in-depth analysis on the Bio Stock business site.
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