Southern California Grows Roots as Potential Hotspot For Hair Loss Therapies
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Southern California Grows Roots as Potential Hotspot For Hair Loss Therapies

Ah Southern California, the land of movie stars, glamor, and beauty. A paradise of botox, silicone, and saline. A perfect incubator for a cure for baldness. Maybe.

Several new scientific studies have cropped up in recent months with tantalizing results that suggest researchers are narrowing in on the mechanism that makes hair start growing. At UC Irvine, Maksim Plikus’s research showed that a molecule called SCUBE3 can stimulate new hair growth in mice when injected into the skin. An hour north, at UC Riverside, complementary research by Qixuan Wang is delving into the same mechanics.

Both groups are focusing on a receptor in hair follicle cells called TGF-β, which plays several roles in virtually every tissue in the body. Critically, the receptor is involved in deciding when cells divide and die. By stimulating these proteins correctly–with the right molecules, in the right concentrations, at the right time–researchers are beginning to reactivate dormant hair follicles in mice.

These therapies have a long road ahead of them before they’re available in your local pharmacy. But that hasn’t stopped Plikus from co-founding Amplifica Holdings group with the intent of doing just that. Any treatment using SCUBE3 is probably 2-3 years away from human trials, but the company has other hair-loss therapy compounds in the pipeline that might be ready for human trials sometime next year, says CEO Frank Fazio. Amplifica is keeping its cards extremely close to the vest for now, and wouldn’t say anything about what type of molecule they’re using or how it works. Fazio would only say that the company is “laser-focused” on hair loss.

“We have two compounds that are going to be studied with the hopeful intent of actually having an impact on hair growth and hair restoration,” he said. More information should be available soon, however: Fazio says Plikus has new research that’s under review in “a prestigious journal” which should give some insight into what Amplifica is targeting with these first drugs.

The company is in the process of raising a $10 million Series A to get operations off the ground and transition it out of research and development and into clinical trials. In addition to potentially treating disorders like alopecia areata and regrowing hair in scar tissue, Plikus estimates that the hair loss market could be worth $12 billion by 2025.

There are several existing drugs on the market already, but they come with long term side effects and aren’t universally effective. Ninety percent of new drugs fail in clinical trials, but if Amplifica succeeds, the drugs could be life-changing and the return on investment massive.

LA‘s Bus Stop Redemption
Christian Gutierrez

Last year, the city of Los Angeles approved a new bus shelter contract with Tranzito-Vector after a 20-year contract that shorted the city over 600 bus shelters and $70 million in advertising revenue. According to a 2012 audit by the city controller, the last contract failed because of a combination of NIMBYism and bureaucratic red tape.

Now, L.A. — the city that puts its cars and their drivers above all else— has an opportunity to prioritize bus riders, and by extension, promote racial and social equity. As the contract wends its way through city hall, delayed by bureaucracy once again, questions remain about whether the city can meet its goals.

Will L.A. bus riders finally get the bus stops (and shade) that they need?

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Maylin Tu
Maylin Tu is a freelance writer who lives in L.A. She writes about scooters, bikes and micro-mobility. Find her hovering by the cheese at your next local tech mixer.
Here's How To Get a Digital License Plate In California

Thanks to a new bill passed on October 5, California drivers now have the choice to chuck their traditional metal license plates and replace them with digital ones.

The plates are referred to as “Rplate” and were developed by Sacramento-based Reviver. A news release on Reviver’s website that accompanied the bill’s passage states that there are “two device options enabling vehicle owners to connect their vehicle with a suite of services including in-app registration renewal, visual personalization, vehicle location services and security features such as easily reporting a vehicle as stolen.”

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Steve Huff
Steve Huff is an Editor and Reporter at dot.LA. Steve was previously managing editor for The Metaverse Post and before that deputy digital editor for Maxim magazine. He has written for Inside Hook, Observer and New York Mag. Steve is the author of two official tie-ins books for AMC’s hit “Breaking Bad” prequel, “Better Call Saul.” He’s also a classically-trained tenor and has performed with opera companies and orchestras all over the Eastern U.S. He lives in the greater Boston metro area with his wife, educator Dr. Dana Huff.