You are an acknowledged expert in your field and as the founder of Skin Biology and creator of Folligen, I’m sure our viewers have quite a few questions for you. Some of these questions may not have definitive answers, but if you could, please give us your best guess based on your opinion.
regrowth: Even those of us who know you are one of the founders of ProCyte and creators of the drugs which Iamin, GraftCyte, and Tricomin are based on only know just that. Could you tell us a little bit about yourself personally including your medical/scientific background?
Dr. Pickart: My scientific interest was in human aging. Iamin came from my Ph.D. thesis in Biochemistry at UCSF. My basic idea was that if some of the differences in cellular growtrh factors and hormones could be altered, then we might reduce some of the symptoms of human aging. I was studying biochemical differences between the blood serum from 20 year old men and 70 year old men in its ability to support the growth of cultured human cells. The serum from 20 year olds always was better at supporting cellular viability and health. Iamin was one of these differences between the blood of the different age groups with the younger blood having higher levels of Iamin.
It required another 12 years of work before the wound healing attributes of Iamin were discovered. Iamin appears to be generated after tissue damage from a structural protein called SPARC and serves as a signal for the induction of tissue repair.
regrowth: What is your history with ProCyte and how did you come to discover the copper peptide based treatments?
Dr. Pickart: I started ProCyte in my home in 1985. Patent applications were filed and experiments started on developing an effective wound healing method.
I was testing various chemical analogs of Iamin on skin repair. One of the chemical analogs strongly stimulated hair growth, but when we synthesized the analog again, there was no effect on hair growth.
I surmised that an impurity was created during original synthesis, and took some guesses as to its structure. After 18 months of work, I found a group of Iamin analogs that consistently stimulated hair growth.
regrowth: Why did you leave ProCyte to form Skin Biology?
Dr. Pickart: To finance the company, I sold blocks of stock. Ultimately the control of the company was lost. This was the period when conventional wisdom was to remove company founders and replace them with old executives from large companies as in the case of Apple Computer. By 1989, the atmosphere at ProCyte was very hostile toward myself and company financial records were being hidden from me. During this time, while in an airport, I had a blood clot that required heart surgery. After this, in early 1991, I decided to leave ProCyte and recover my health. I bought and outfitted my boat, named it “Regenerate”, and spent a year studying tissue growth and skin repair, often on the boat. I especially focused on a search for methods of inducing skin repair that utilized very safe non-drug materials.
regrowth: Tell us a little more about Skin Biology and its current and long term goals (both in terms of products as well as earnings).
Dr. Pickart: Skin Biology has patented a non-drug method of skin repair and hair growth. Three double-blinded placebo-controlled studies in the Dermatology Department at the University of California at San Francisco had successfully demonstrated the skin repair properties of our products.
We are developing a number of products based on our technology.
1. The SKIN BIOLOGY RENEWAL SYSTEM.
This is a skin regeneration anti-wrinkle system. It is a skin exfolitating cream, Glycolic-8, an alpha hydroxy acid, and our Protect & Restore cream. All of the skin renewal systems on the market basically induce a small amount of skin damage with a alpha hydroxy acid, retinoic acid, or by burning the upper layers of skin with a laser (“laser-resurfacing”). You could call this step 1. Then it is the hope that the body repairs the damage, and rebuilds and tightens the skin or step 2. In our system, we use our clinically-proven skin repair cream to improve step 2 to accelerate the skin renewal.
Folligen continues to evolve. We plan to sell Folligen and minoxidil as a system – Folligen for scalp health and minoxidil for the hair growth.
We also are formulating a version of Folligen with the key ingredients in a water-ethyl alcohol-propylene glycol base to have a very liquid system.
3. Tan Forever
One of our early creams produces very excellent suntanning with very little skin peeling. This is being developed into Tan Forever.
4. Therapeutic products.
Our skin repair creams work very well on many types of dermatitis, skin lesions and improve wound healing. However, the regulatory barriers to product sales are very difficult. We plan to license these uses to established companies.
regrowth: Can you tell us a little bit about Skin Biology’s current stock value, financial earnings, company value, etc?
Dr. Pickart: The company is traded on the Vancouver Stock Exchange. We are in the process of listing on the NASD Bulletin Board. Our plan to to move to NASDAQ in the future. The stock trades at about $0.50 ($ Canadian) and the total market value of the comapny is about $3 million ($ US).
We are in discussions with a number of companies to develop effective marketing of the products.
regrowth: Tell us a little about Skin Biology’s products besides Folligen.
Dr. Pickart: see above
regrowth: Tell us a little about the active ingredient in Folligen. How did you come to discover it and decide it was more effective than your previous copper peptides?
Dr. Pickart: Folligen was unexpected. I was searching for a non-drug method to improve skin health. I do not have any clinical studies to compare it to the copper peptides but my impression is that Folligen is a fundamentally better and safer method of improving skin health around the hair follicle.
regrowth: Saw Palmetto is a well known herb but it is not too well researched for hair loss, especially in topical form. Many people on-line have debated whether Saw Palmetto helps in hair loss or not at all. Are there any studies on the topical effectiveness of Saw Palmetto? Do you have any evidence that Saw Palmetto alone helps in hair loss orally or topically? Have there been tests on Folligen with Saw Palmetto and without to see if there is any discernable difference?
Dr. Pickart: We have no tests on the difference. I have heard of reports that Saw Palmetto improves both skin health and hair health.
regrowth: GraftCyte, Iamin, and Folligen all contain less than 1% of their active ingredient. The studies on Tricomin on 1.25% and 2.5% formula showed only the 2.5% formula was effective for hair loss. Why does Folligen not include a similar percentage of active ingredient? Do you believe Folligen would be more effective than currently if it used a similar higher percentage?
Dr. Pickart: Folligen probably would be more active at a higher percentage. But we are fighting the blue color problem. Also, skin irritation might occur at higher concentrations. We still need controlled clinical studies to optimize Folligen.
regrowth: How effective do you think Folligen is in maintaining hair and growing new hair? Do you have any studies (internal or otherwise) indicating percentages?
Dr. Pickart: About half our orders are re-orders. Many men (but not all) like the product. We focused much energy on improving the smell of Folligen and these complaints have vanished with the newer Folligen preparations.
regrowth: Have you observed any differences between the effectiveness of liquid and cream folligen?
Dr. Pickart: No. We sell somewhat more lotion than the cream.
regrowth: Several people have complained about the color of Folligen (green), saying that it is hard to get out of their hair or gets on things (pillow cases, etc). Do you have any plans in the future to make the color clearer so that it can be used in the day and prevent those types of problems? Is the green color due to Saw Palmetto or something else?
Dr. Pickart: Most of the color comes from the copper ion plus a yellow tint in the basic cream. People can either wash their shed hair off the pillow or wash the blue color off their pillow. Its one or the other.
regrowth: What plans if any do you have for improving your existing hair loss products or a next generation of hair loss product?
Dr. Pickart: My guess is that Folligen will improve markedly. Our UCSF studies on skin repair gave very precise data on various formulations and we were able to increase the cream’s skin repair activity by five-fold.
regrowth: You have been using your resources for clinical studies of your Ancillin product. Do you have any clinical studies in progress or planned for Folligen or a newer hair product?
Dr. Pickart: We are talking with a number of large companies. Folligen will be further developed.
regrowth: Iamin and Folligen have shown beneficial effects for users including improved hair quality and strength and regrowth in some users, but have not been as vastly effective as Minoxidil or Proscar. Is the reason for this that the percentage of active ingredient is low or that the drug is just not effecitive enough?
Dr. Pickart: Again, Folligen is in its infancy – it will improve. Neither minoxidil nor Proscar have been vastly effective. The combination of Proscar (or Propecia) and Folligen is said to be quite effective. (Will Brink in Musclemag International, May 1997)
regrowth: Do you think there is the potential for more effective copper peptide like products in the future that we just haven’t discovered yet?
Dr. Pickart: Yes – but some of this is proprietary.
regrowth: You obviously have a good knowledge of the active ingredient in Tricomin (PC1358). If ProCyte finds someone to partner on Phase III studies and it comes to market, how big of an impact do you think it will have?
Dr. Pickart: It could be very successful.
regrowth: There has been a lot of speculation about the quality of ProCytes management. Their stock was recently at an all time low (pretty much at the exact value of the company in cash), and now that they’ve finished Phase II Tricomin trials, they have no partner to either market it as a cosmetic or take it to Phase III trials (yet). Do you think the management there has the capability to take Tricomin to market by either method and make it a success?
Dr. Pickart: ProCyte has been poorly managed and lost its focus. At one point, management took the company off on a tangent to cure AIDS before completing the company’s core projects. ProCyte is now making much some needed changes in management but much too slowly. The company needs a real shakeup.
regrowth: Do you think any drug that bypasses Phase III FDA trials and is marketed as a cosmetic can have a significant impact in the US hairloss market?
Dr. Pickart: Definitely. The cosmetic industry can promote and imply anything. Also, if the FDA Modernization bill becomes law (which is curently moving through Congress), there will be a flood of new products moved to the market.
regrowth: What do you think of Tricomin’s phase II results? Were they what you expected?
Dr. Pickart: I expected better results. The key here is product formulation. I think many of the solvents used with minoxidil, such as ethyl alcohol, may damage the scalp. The same goes for Tricomin, the formlation of the product and its interaction with the scalp is critically important.
regrowth: Some people have looked at the Tricomin phase II results and been disappointed based on a lack of increased hair weight. The company was also pretty vague as far as results. Do you think they should be disappointed?
Dr. Pickart: No.
regrowth: A lot of people have bought ProCyte stock over the last year or two based on Tricomin expectations. Now the stock is at an all time low. Do you think the company will ever get out of the doghouse and make their investment valuable? Have you sold all your ProCyte stock or have you kept yours?
Dr. Pickart: I sold most of my stock, but mainly to fund Skin Biology. I think ProCyte has a powerful technology that has been badly handled over the years by ProCyte’s management.
regrowth: What can you tell us about any of the following promising treatments under investigation: Piliel by Life Medical Sciences, Parathyroid Hormon related Peptide (Dr. Michael Holick of Boston Medical), and the estrogen blocking drug recently discovered by North Carolina professors.
Dr. Pickart: These all are drug products. The problem with hair growth products is their long-term effects. Strong hormones ususally produce effects throughout the body. I doubt if any of these powerful hormones will succeed.
Thank you for your time, Dr. Pickart.
To buy Folligen Solution Spray, click here: Folligen Solution Therapy Spray