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Aclaris Theraputics buys up rights to JAK inhibitor hair loss technology

By Simon Pitman+

31-Mar-2016
Last updated on 31-Mar-2016 at 18:05 GMT2016-03-31T18:05:20Z

Aclaris Theraputics buys up rights to JAK inhibitor hair loss technology

Aclaris Technology has confirmed the acquisition of Vixens Pharmaceuticals – a company that holds the intellectual property rights to technology relating to Janus Kinase (JAK) inhibitors for the treatment of hair loss.

Aclaris is a clinical stage specialty pharmaceutical company and has acquired all the stock in Columbia University-licensed Vixen to secure the rights to JAK inhibitor compounds with potential topical applications for the treatment of hair loss such as alopecia areata, androgenetic alopecia and other dermatological conditions.

While the price tag was not revealed, as part of the deal, Aclaris has agreed to pay upfront for the business as a whole, including the value related to various development and commercial milestones, as well as additional payments for potential future sales.

Second JAK acqusition

Aclaris is adding to a previous related acquisition made back in November 2015, when its wholly-owned subsidiary, Aclaris Theraputics International, entered into a license agreement with JAKPharm and Key Organics.

That agreement saw Aclaris acquire the worldwide rights to JAK3 inhibitor compounds for the treatment of hair loss and dermatological conditions.

Aclaris says that the combination of the two acquisitions is significant because it allows the company to further expand its JAK inhibitor portfolio and its capabilities in the area of hair loss treatments.

Treatments for male and female pattern baldness

“The acquisition of the Vixen intellectual property and the licensed JAKPharm and Key Organics compounds solidifies Aclaris’ presence in the JAK inhibitor space and allows us to broaden our focus in hair loss to include androgenetic alopecia, often referred to as female or male pattern baldness,” said Neal Walker, president and chief executive officer of Aclaris.

“With this expansion of our pipeline, we continue to pursue our core strategy of developing and commercializing self-pay aesthetic and medical dermatology products for which there is a significant unmet need.”

The link between baldness and JAK inhibitors

The link between JAK inhibitors and hair loss was established by a group of researchers at the Columbia University Medical Center, which Cosmetics Design reported on in October last year.

The researchers claim that they have managed to suspend a certain family of enzymes in hair follicles that can help restore hair growth.

Published in the peer-reviewed journal Science Advances, the research shows that experiments conducted on mice with human hair follicles found that the topical application of drugs which inhibit the JAK family of enzymes can promote “rapid and robust” hair growth.

The study was conducted by Angela M. Christiano, PhD, and her team, and showed that the JAK inhibitors could restore a wide variety of hair loss types, including male pattern baldness, as well as well as hair loss caused by hair follicles becoming trapped in a resting state.

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