The UCI School of Biological Sciences is home to talented faculty researchers and scientists who work to solve a whole host of problems facing society. Some of the solutions they’ve created are so groundbreaking that they have the potential to be spun out into startup companies, thereby creating jobs, spurring economic growth and using university-funded research to make an impact on the public.
One such faculty member is Maksim Plikus, professor in the Department of Developmental and Cell Biology, whose research focuses primarily on regenerative biology, namely as it relates to enhancing wound healing and stimulating hair growth. Through examining the intricacies of how stem cells are regulated within the skin, he discovered several molecules that can potently stimulate growth of new hair.
Understanding the potential of a theoretical therapeutic that could effectively treat baldness, Professor Plikus submitted a record of invention disclosure through UCI Beall Applied Innovation to assist in filing a patent.
When it comes to navigating the investor and business landscape, however — as many entrepreneurial academics find out — there are an entirely different set of challenges to overcome.
Fortunately, through a mutual interest in aesthetics, Dean’s Leadership Council member Wajdie Ahmad came across Professor Plikus’ patent filing through UCI in December of 2018 and contacted him to discuss the research. Ahmad, a successful biotech entrepreneur, knew how to navigate regulatory and FDA hurdles, which proved invaluable to Professor Plikus and the nascent biopharmaceutical company that would become Amplifica.
“The fact that Wajdie was already engaged with the school and is a member of the Dean’s Leadership Council facilitated building a productive relationship,” said Professor Plikus. “That, along with his biotech expertise — especially within the areas of drug development and managing/building startups allowed us to advance Amplifica forward.”
Amplifica recently announced the closing of a successful Series A financing round of $11.8 million that will go toward further developing the company’s compounds to treat hair loss conditions in both men and women.