Yuva Biosciences is attempting to treat skin aging by improving mitochondrial function, and they are taking a cosmeceutical approach. It is far faster and less costly to bring treatments to market via the cosmetics regulatory pathway than via the Investigational New Drug pathway. One has to accept considerable restrictions over what sort of approaches can be used, meaning that one is largely constrained to using combinations of known compounds, taken from a list of those that have been well characterized already. This in turn means that effect sizes tend not to be large.
Historically this has been an industry in which profit is driven by marketing rather than efficacy, so developers have not been all that incentivized to produce products that worked. Targeting the mechanisms of aging will gradually introduce some degree of efficacy into this field, however. Or at least we can hope that this will be the case. We can look at the reduction of cellular senescence in skin following months of topical low dose rapamycin treatment, for example, or the conceptually similar but technically different OneSkin approach to topical senotherapeutics.
With an initial focus on developing cosmeceuticals, US start-up Yuva Biosciences aims to harness mitochondrial science to address skin aging and age-related hair loss. The company has developed a natural topical treatment, imminently about to enter human trials, which it hopes will demonstrate an ability to promote hair growth and reduce skin wrinkles.
During founder Keshav Singh's work to explore whether mice induced with mitochondrial dysfunction were more likely to develop cancer, he came across a surprising result. "The first thing we noticed was that, within four weeks or six weeks, these mice developed skin wrinkles, and lost hair. When we restored the mitochondrial function, the hair grew back. So that gave us a direct link between mitochondrial dysfunction and hair loss and skin aging." The results convinced Singh that he should try to discover a compound that would drive similar results and set about testing a range of natural and pharmaceutical products.
"We derived fibroblast cells from these mice, and did a very targeted screening. And, lo and behold, within a month we found a natural compound that can prevent skin wrinkles and hair loss in mice. So we started Yuva Biosciences and have started work towards commercialising both the initial compound discovered, plus a pipeline of compounds, with a focus on natural compounds, because those can go to market as cosmeceuticals. We're actually starting human trials, and we'll be conducting three trials over the next couple months - two for skin, one for hair. And so that'll provide a lot of exciting results and hopefully some exciting products."