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Hairy good news about hair cloning

Researchers for Cambridge-based Intercytex are in the business of hope. They have developed a way of stimulating human cell growth and reproduction that can be used not only for hair re-growth but also to accelerate wound-healing and to replace skin grafts with specially grown skin replacements. And with an additional £12m investment from existing shareholders, they won’t be stopping research anytime soon.

The baldness treatment begins with a biopsy, or the taking of a small sample of hair follicles, an outpatient operation under local anesthetic that can be performed at a hair or skin clinic. The hair sample is then sent to the Intercytex manufacturing plant in Manchester, where the hair-producing cells are extracted and nurtured for three weeks before being returned to the clinic for re-injection into the patient’s scalp.

Early trials of the treatment have proved successful – within three months, a patient could have a new head of hair. Further trials are planned for next year, in both the UK and the US.

Intercytex CEO Nick Higgins, “pleased to have raised this considerable sum” and grateful to the company’s “committed and supportive investors”, dedicated the new funds to the completion of late-stage trials for the wound-care product, as well as to taking the hair regeneration product through later stage clinical trials and to moving the living skin replacement program into clinical trials.

Headquartered at St. John’s Innovation Center, Intercytex has made rapid strides in research and fundraising both since its founding in 2000 – the company’s total funding is currently at £31m. The latest investment comes from existing shareholders, including Cambridge-based Avlar BioVentures, 3i, Cambridge Gateway Partnership, Sir Chris Evans’ Merlin Biosciences, NIF Ventures and Scottish Equity Partners.

Intercytex has also announced two new appointments to its board of directors: Alan Suggett, formerly Group Director with Smith & Nephew, and John Aston, CFO at Cambridge Antibody Technology.

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