By Daniel Coats, California Business Journal
A child of nine years old appears to have their prime of youth and vigor ahead of them. But unbeknownst to most, the child’s largest organ – their skin – is beginning to age as tropelastin, the elasticity of tissue responsible for the sleek youthful appearance we all crave, begins to decline in production. It is a process that will manifest over decades, until, by middle age, many will seek expensive treatments or surgery to regain their former looks.
SkinStim, a Playa Vista-based skin care startup, is seeking to disrupt the global antiaging industry, worth some $350 billion, through products that will utilize a non-invasive bioelectric signal that controls stem cell homing that turns the elasticity of tissue lost in childhood back on. The company president, Chris Rosgen, believes in a future in which a middle-aged woman uses a take-home serum that she applies under a bioelectric mask for 30 minutes at a time on several occasions each week. Soon, her facial appearance makes her look 10 to 15 years younger.
With exclusive patent-pending technologies that use the body’s own signals to repair skin cells from aging, sun and smoke damage and improve the healing of injuries, SkinStim’s impact extends beyond antiaging, with implications for traumatic injury restoration.
“Our skin regeneration composition is for advanced skin damage repair, including burn recovery,” Rosgen says. “It is based on 15 components, all of which have been studied separately with numerous peer-review papers. We are currently planning clinical trials.”
With a massive global market and demand, “I would expect this technology to be acquired by a major player in the industry,” says Rosgen, who is also president of Lumanaire Skin, an Orange County-based anti-aging medtech developer. “Our strategy is to develop this, provide the data and put it in the hands of industry giants, such as Allergan, which is very successful in facial aesthetics.”
The Stem Cell Solution
The SkinStim skin regeneration technology platform includes a bioelectric stimulator and face mask combined a fifteen component skin regeneration composition. The bioelectric stimulator controls the release of more than 19 regeneration promoting proteins including stem cell homing, proliferation and differentiation control signals. The SS-15 composition includes stem cells, growth factors, exosomes, Micro RNAs, PRF, amniotic fluid, skin matrix, hydrogel, oxygenated nano particles and selected alkaloids. A bioelectrically activated take home serum is also being developed.
Rosgen’s bid for accessible and innovative lifelong skin care is one of more than two dozen concepts in development at Leonhardt’s Launchpads, a healthcare startup accelerator based on a revolution in medical technology in which a patient’s own stem cells will be recruited for low-toxicity treatments for some of the modern age’s dread diseases, such as cancer and diabetes, as well as chronic conditions that impact quality of life, including aging skin.
With more than 140 innovators and mentors in its network, Leonhardt’s Launchpads gives SkinStim access to top-of-the-line talent, which has together produced thousands of publications over the past 30 years focused on regeneration through bioelectrics and biologics. Among these experts is SkinStim’s Chief Medical Officer Dr. Leslie Miller, who has participated in more than 80 FDA clinical trials and is the author or co-author of more than 240 publications, including one of the leading textbooks on stem cell regeneration.
“This field has made remarkable progress in not only understanding the stem cells and molecular mechanisms in tissue repair, but also opening up novel new approaches to therapy based on an understanding of the diverse electric signals in the human body,” Rosgen says. “Bioelectric signaling is just like a computer program that gives instructions to microprocessors and semiconductors, except we are using the same signals used in nature to improve skin and circulation.”
Currently, Rosgen is seeking data partners to demonstrate the impact of stem cell-based skin treatment, as well as practitioners to utilize the technology in conjunction with topical stem cell serums and a protocol of other treatments, such as platelet-rich fibrin (PRF). He believes that with years of data, investment is likely to follow, particularly with global trends like rising life expectancies that have brought skin care to the forefront.
“If we can demonstrate 10 to 15 years through data, I see this technology as being innovative, revolutionary and having the potential to disrupt the market because it is minimally invasive and anti-traumatic. It feels just like a tickle on your skin,” he says.
While SkinStim certainly faces competition, Rosgen notes it has a unique value-add that sets it apart. “Microcurrent facial, which has been popularized by Jennifer Aniston, is a workout on your face. We have a key differentiator in that we can produce the stem cell homing factors and elastin release,” he says. “Botox has side effects related to muscle atrophy, but our approach can contribute to muscle tone.”
Making a Difference By Improving Skin
Rosgen is seeking partners at the university level, funding grants and practitioners to get the concept launched. He encourages those interested in participating in the SkinStim revolution to reach out to the startup.
For Rosgen, a commitment to skin and wound care began in 2003, when the UC Irvine alumnus co-founded a company that was small in size but invaluable in intellectual property that is now used by a leading skin care firm. “Within three years, we had a $300 million company and that technology was later acquired and now sits in the intellectual property portfolio of some famous leaders,” he says.
This was just the beginning of a life calling.
“I identified Obagi prior to its acquisition and had a plan in place to help the CEO because the stock was extremely undervalued,” Rosgen says. “During that process, Valeant acquired the company for $23 per share. Later, I worked to secure funding for another topical stem cell funding company and I secured $40 million for them over several years.”
A commitment to social good is what drew Rosgen to this field. “I fell in love with this business because skin care helps people look young and beautiful,” he says. “My goal has always been to identify companies that are innovative in disrupting the market.”
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