Sunday, July 29, 2007

Looking Good is Getting More Expensive

Today's Globe column focuses on aesthetic medicine, and some of the companies developing drugs and devices to help us look better. From the piece:

    A cluster of New England companies is developing drugs and medical devices that will reduce wrinkles and cellulite, grow hair where you want it and remove it where you don't, and help you manage your impulse to overeat.

    And while keeping you young and slim may not be as socially redeeming as, say, devising a vaccine for the next flu pandemic, millions of dollars in venture capital funding are flowing into the sector dubbed "aesthetic medicine," puffing up local start-ups like a shot of collagen injected into a pair of lips.

    In 2005, the US market for aesthetic devices and therapies was $2 billion, according to Windhover Information -- a number that is expected to grow to $4.2 billion by 2010.

Leerink Swann & Co., a Boston investment bank, put out this report (PDF document) earlier in July. It's titled "Anti-Aging Breakthroughs: Future of the Aesthetics Market." It mentions a few companies with Massachusetts links that aren't in my column, including UltraShape (based in Israel but funded by Polaris Ventures) and Juniper Medical (built on science from the MassGeneral lab of Rox Anderson and funded by Advanced Technology Ventures, but headquartered in California.) Thanks to Leerink vice chair Dan Dubin for sharing it.

Here's the video from my conversation with Daphne Zohar, founder of PureTech ventures and interim CEO of Follica, a company that aims to develop a drug/device combination that will stimulate new hair follicle growth. We talk about the aesthetics market in general, some of the marketing and reimbursement issues, and the cultural divide between aesthetic medicine companies and more "serious" biotech and device companies.

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