Awakened stem cells stimulate hair growth
By Frans Dreissen
Help, my hair is falling out! Many people between say 20 and 40 years of age think they are too young to go bald. Mane Biotech at the Health Campus in Maastricht says it can provide a solution by reactivating lazy stem cells in the scalp.
Thursday 11 August 2022 at 15:45
Hair loss is perfectly normal. Excessive hair loss, in which heredity factors often play a major role, is not. The annoying thing is that no caffeine shampoo, lotion, medicine or vitamin therapy can cure it. At least not proven.
Carlos Chacón-Martínez (41) approaches the problem, which often has a major mental impact on young adults, from a scientific perspective. The Colombian native studied in Ghent and did research on regenerative medicine and stem cells at the University of Dresden and the Max Planck Institute.
"Stem cells are found in blood, bone marrow and liver. They play an important role in the repair of organs, but also the renewal of skin and hair. What fascinates me is how can you activate them?"
Hair growth device
Carlos Chacón founded biomedical company Mane Biotech with electrical engineer Samuel Jellard in Cologne in 2019, with the aim of developing a hair growth device. A prototype has now been tested in Germany, with what he says are amazing results: thicker hair and greater hair density per square centimeter. Next year a six-month trial with two groups of forty people will follow. "To be able to prove the effectiveness, one group will get a working device and the other a kind of placebo."
The wireless 'pillow' is simply placed on the balding area. Contact points powered by a battery, stimulate dormant and lazy stem cells in the scalp. These in turn reactivate the hair roots and hair growth. Sensors see if the device is in the right place and with software and artificial intelligence, the growth can be monitored via an app.
"With daily use of half an hour, after three months the results are already clear: as many hairs fall out as are added. After six months, the hair is thicker and denser," says Chacón, who doesn't want to reveal too many details about the device for the sake of competition.
"Hair regeneration is not a sprint, but a matter of a long haul. We focus primarily on men between the ages of twenty and forty. It is a cosmetic thing. Women are not directly eligible for treatment, because hormonal conditions often play a role. And in older men, the hair follicles have shrunk so much over time that they can hardly be reactivated."
Carlos Chacón thinks that his device can make the difference in a market that has been calculated to be worth 13 billion dollars worldwide. A team of nine people is now working hard on a first commercial version. "Cologne is our headquarters. In Maastricht, since July, mainly the R&D takes place and from Pakistan comes the necessary software."
Mane Biotech expects to launch the device on the market late next year. "Why Maastricht? Because the region, together with Aachen, is strong in the development of medical applications and because of its proximity to renowned hospitals and universities."
During a first investment round, Mane Biotech raised 1.7 million euros; money from investment fund Brightlands Venture Partners and a number of private investors. "To be a real gamechanger, another ten million euros or so will be needed from January. Furthermore, a crowdfunding campaign is being considered."
The intention is to rent the hair growth device in combination with a subscription to the app for a personalized treatment. This according to the no cure, no pay principle. Samuel Jellard has left the company to pursue other challenges. Emil Aliev has been recruited as financial and commercial partner.
"Head hair is kind of like your business card. I like to help people with something that really works. I don't promise miracles. It takes time for the hair to grow."
Following this project, Mane Biotech intends to explore adjacent markets and health concerns such as skin regeneration in wound healing.