Next week, biotech company Camellix LLC will launch its “hair-thickening” shampoo, said company founder and GHSU professor Stephen Hsu.
Camellix, housed in the Life Sciences Business Development Center, has already created a dandruff shampoo and a gum that fights chronic mouth dryness using the same ingredient, epigallocatechin gallate. It is also working on a drug to treat cold sores using the EGCG. That drug, the gum and the dandruff shampoo are in clinical trials, Hsu said.
He is careful not to call the new shampoo a “hair loss” shampoo because that would be a medical claim that might run afoul of federal regulations, but there is scientific evidence in animal studies that EGCG prevents hair loss, said Hsu, a former green tea farmer in China and a researcher into EGCG.
In a study in South Korea last year, researchers working with mice were able to reduce hair loss from testosterone by topical applications of EGCG. They concluded the ingredient was able to reduce the effect of testosterone that causes cell suicide.
“This is the one that is more related to male baldness,” Hsu said. “That’s the model that we
are following. We use topical application.”
The problem has been that after water-soluble EGCG is added to shampoo, its potency is “decreased dramatically because of the environment,” Hsu said. His company has a patented EGCG formula that is fat-soluble.
“It is much, much more stable,” Hsu said.
Another element to the shampoo should provide more hair-strengthening effect. Hsu said he made a deal with the maker of a popular hair-loss shampoo from South America to study its active ingredients. At least part of that formula is incorporated in the new shampoo.
Part of the intrigue around EGCG is the ability to provide protection for normal cells such as skin and hair while proving toxic to cancer cells in lab and animal studies.
Hsu, who has studied EGCG’s effect in several organs, believes it can have both an antioxidant effect and work against cell death. It works as an antioxidant by reducing the number of damaging free radical cells. How it can decrease cell suicide is not as well understood, but there are a number of studies pointing to different paths, Hsu said.
The shampoo project began after Hsu made up a concoction for his wife, who was complaining about hair loss. Word got out among her friends and his co-workers, and he was soon making bigger batches.