Acorn Biolabs lands $8m for follicle-based stem cell cryopreservation service

Hair-follicle derived stem cell banking service allows individuals to preserve their cells for future medical and aesthetic applications.

Cryopreservation is officially, er, hot?! Following yesterday’s story about Laura Deming’s new cryonics venture, today we bring you the story of Canadian startup Acorn Biolabs, which has closed more than $8 million in Series A funding to advance its follicle-based stem cell cryopreservation service. The Toronto-based personalized regenerative medicine company says it has developed a technology that enables the extraction and preservation of stem cells from hair follicles, which can be used to develop personalized treatments at partner clinic locations across North America.

Acorn’s hair-follicle derived stem cell banking service, which was introduced in Canada and the United States last year, allows individuals to preserve their cells for future aesthetic and medical applications. The cell collection process requires the collection of 50 intact hair follicles, which the company claims are an ideal source of cells due to their ability to be collected non-invasively and their natural replenishment. Hair follicles contain a variety of valuable tissues and stem cells, such as keratinocytes, fibroblasts, and progenitor stem cells, which can differentiate into various cell types.

The collected cells undergo viability analysis before being cryogenically frozen at -196°C (-320.8°F), halting the aging process and preventing further damage. Acorn says the preserved cells can later be used to produce personalized stem cell-based treatments, which are rich in exosomes, growth factors, and matrix molecules. The company’s vision is to allow clients to capitalize in future on the preserved cells to rejuvenate tissues, support injury recovery, and combat disease.

Acorn plans to use the funds to expand its portfolio of cosmetic products and increase its market presence, with the launch of its first topical product expected within the next year.

“At the core, we facilitate the collection, expansion and storage of a patient’s own cells through our hair-follicle based cryopreservation business,” said Acorn CEO Drew Taylor. This business model has shown steady growth since launch, and we expect it to accelerate through investment in direct-to-consumer advertising and in-clinic promotion. This funding round also enables Acorn to execute on our robust pipeline of potential cosmetic uses for these cells, including hair and skin applications, which we expect to launch in North America in the next year.”

The funding round was led by medical aesthetics company Merz Aesthetics, with participation from TELUS Global Ventures, MDE Investments, The Leslie Group, Lee Li Holdings, and a number of individual physicians specializing in medical aesthetics, orthopedics, and longevity.

Jon Parrish, Chief Corporate Development Officer at Merz Aesthetics, highlighted Acorn’s relevance in the emerging field of “regenerative aesthetics,” which seeks to stimulate the body’s own systems to repair and restore the structure and integrity of aging skin.

“We are looking to invest in opportunities that lie at the intersection of regenerative aesthetics and personalized medicine and our investment in Acorn Biolabs directly aligns with this strategy,” he said.