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Mane Biotech:
Solving hair loss with regenerative medicine

Read a blog written by Dr. Samuel Jellard,
co-founder of Mane Biotech

3 minute read

 

My name is Dr. Samuel Jellard, and I have a PhD in Electronic Engineering from the University of Southampton, during which time I spent 2 years in Singapore developing energy harvesting devices.

Together with Dr. Carlos Chacón I am the co-founder of Mane Biotech. I am the CTO of the company, and responsible for the development of our smart, wearable anti hair loss device. 

We are a regenerative medicine company unlocking the unexplored regeneration potential of the body to tackle different health issues, starting with the development of a unique solution to combat common hair loss, otherwise known as Androgenetic Alopecia. We are building a smart, wearable device which will utilise sensor technology and artificial intelligence to personalise user treatments, reactivating hair growth and preventing hair loss without the use of drugs or painful procedures. Our device will represent the very first anti hair loss solution which is both tailored to the user, effective and available over the counter. 

In the future, we will apply our technology to the fields of accelerated wound healing and dental hygiene as the principles of improved regeneration apply to many organs. 

Carlos and I met through the Entrepreneur First programme in Berlin. We realised that we could combine our backgrounds in electronic engineering and stem cell biology to tackle an old problem from a surprisingly different perspective! From extensive customer development we have seen first hand how hair loss can significantly damage the self-esteem of sufferers. The opportunity to help people take control of their hair growth, and in-doing so rebuild their confidence, by leveraging our knowledge and passions was irresistible.

Regenerative medicine is an incredibly exciting branch of translational research. The human body is well known for its remarkable ability to maintain, heal and regenerate tissues. For example, our gut lining renews itself every 3 days and wounds on our skin heal in only 4-7 days.

Sometimes, however, due to ageing or disease our body is unable to carry out its regenerative processes. The field of regenerative medicine looks into how we can develop therapies which help the body re-establish normal regenerative functioning in such cases. 

Hair loss is an example of this. In common hair loss a hormonal imbalance in the body leads to the inactivation of normal hair growth, leading to hair follicle shrinkage and eventually hair loss. Mane Biotech is developing technology which overrides this hormonal imbalance using precise, non-invasive stimuli, to kick start hair growth back to normal. 

Having received excellent feedback from users of our first prototype, we are nearing the completion of our second generation prototype and are excited to expand our data set further from Q2 2020 onwards. We are currently in discussions with German hardware development partners on the design of our market ready device. 

We are also beginning the development of a complementary artificial intelligence-based software app, which will personalise the treatment to every user based on collected data via sensors on the device. It’ll also record the user's hair growth progress over time and control the wearable unit. 

From a scientific stand-point, at the beginning 2020 we received promising results from hair follicle biopsy testing and are excited for what the future brings. We are continuously optimising the stimuli behind our treatment in order to deliver the most efficient and personalised treatment.

The over-used phrase in start-up communities is that "Hardware is hard" - the capital requirements necessary for the successful design and iteration of hardware products can sometimes make it infeasible for bootstrapping entrepreneurs to survive very long. 

In light of this, it is very important to take the creative/unconventional approach, with a substantial amount of "outside the box" thinking required also! In our example, we developed Mane Biotech's 1st prototype by combining several off-the shelf electronic components and fixing them into a flat cap. Whilst our device wasn't the most aesthetically pleasing, it quickly allowed us to obtain critical feedback from our users, which we are now incorporating into the design of our 2nd generation prototype.

In addition to hardware expenses, it has been necessary to work with Contract Research Organisations in order to optimise the stimuli provided by our device. This has also come at substantial cost, so careful planning of our investments has been necessary. 

From Carlos’s perspective as CEO, a key challenge has been to persuade critics within the hair loss industry. It is a commonly held belief that all existing over the counter solutions are ineffective in fighting hair loss - so why would Mane Biotech now have solved this?  As few people are aware of the recent advancements in regenerative medicine, it’s sometimes difficult to gain credibility from users and investors. 

Although the home of Mane Biotech is in Cologne, Germany, we enjoy international partnerships with hair loss clinics across Europe. As part of our customer development, I spent a few weeks contacting as many hair clinics in London as possible in order to better understand the market and what hair loss sufferers actually want. I vividly remember walking the length of Harley Street and knocking on the door of every hair loss clinic there! Although such measures are quite brazen, the insights learnt from outreach like this are incredibly valuable, allowing you to truly understand your customer and the market you are entering; essential information for your product's success.

We are interested in collaborating with individuals working in hardware, software, and direct-to-consumer products. We also want to meet investors that both value our ambitious goals of disrupting the hair loss industry with deep science tech, and want to contribute to the development of our technology.  Additionally, we are also actively reaching out to hair loss clinics who may be interested in partnerships.

HealthTech Hardware start-ups are not only faced with the challenge of managing prototype development, but ensuring that the finished product meets the correct standards required for medical devices before launching to market (if applicable). Do not be intimidated by this - if you truly have a great idea, validated by the market, then go for it! But, be realistic with the timelines involved and capital required. An early conversation with a trusted professional, such as a qualified medical device consultant, can quickly verify the time scales and funding required, allowing you to plan your roadmap accordingly. 

We have received pre-seed funding the prestigious talent investor, Entrepreneur First. We are now looking to raise a bridge round of €100k to finish the development of our second generation prototype and expand our device’s performance dataset. 

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