dNovo Emerges From Stealth With Its Potential Cure for Hair Loss

Laboratory mouse 7 months after transplantation with dNovo's induced hair stem cells. (Photo: Business Wire)

SAN JOSE, Calif.--()--dNovo Inc., a Silicon Valley company developing a cure for hair loss by generating personalized hair stem cells, emerged from stealth today and announced $2.7M in seed funding from Y Combinator, Felicis Ventures, Soma Capital, Yintai Investment Company LLC, and others.

dNovo is developing a proprietary direct reprogramming system to generate new, personalized hair stem cells to replace cells lost due to aging or conditions such as male patterned baldness. Using its proprietary technology, dNovo has converted human skin cells directly into induced hair stem cells without going through a pluripotent state, and demonstrated that these induced hair stem cells were capable of producing hair in a mouse model. dNovo was recently featured in MIT Technology Review (bit.ly/3Kuw6iU) and Fortune (bit.ly/353fvlT).

“We are excited to showcase our direct reprogramming system and the potential for our technology to address the underlying cause of hair loss. With our reprogramming system, we have demonstrated the feasibility of generating induced human hair stem cells and shown as a proof of principle that these cells can be used to grow hair,” said Dr. Ernesto Lujan, founder and CEO of dNovo. “Direct reprogramming technology does not rely on generating pluripotent cells but instead directly converts one cell type into another (for example, in our case, skin cells to hair stem cells). This makes our system quick and scalable. We are further optimizing our technology platform, and look forward to working with potential partners to bring our reprogramming system to the next stage.”

“We are very excited by dNovo’s early results,” said Niki Pezeshki, General Partner at Felicis Ventures. “Hair loss is one of the medical challenges that affects millions of people every year, but most current solutions only focus on slowing down hair loss. With dNovo, we see a fundamentally different approach to treatment as dNovo is actually regenerating new hair stem cells. This has the potential to become a real cure for hair loss.”

“We see dNovo at the forefront of innovation with their quest to address the age-old and pervasive problem of hair loss,” said Nikhita Jaaswal, Investor at Soma Capital. “Their novel breakthrough approach using direct stem cell regeneration to give rise to hair follicles has massive possibilities in treating hair loss in a manner compatible with innate human biology. We look forward to supporting the efforts of the dNovo team as they continue to develop their technology.”

Other investors include Ataria Ventures, Duro Ventures, Pioneer Fund, Paul Buchheit, Jason Hodges, Max Kolysh, Joey Krug, Justin Mateen, Jean Pigozzi, Claudio Pinkus, and Charles Songhurst.

For more information, please visit www.dnovobio.com.

About dNovo Inc.

dNovo Inc. is a pre-clinical cell technology company with a mission to cure baldness by creating new hair de novo. Founded in 2018 by Dr. Ernesto Lujan with initial support from Y Combinator, dNovo is developing a direct reprogramming system to convert patient-derived cells into personalized hair stem cells without going through a pluripotent state. These cells can then be used to replenish damaged or depleted hair stem cells in patients suffering from hair loss. dNovo looks forward to delivering their potential cure to millions of hair loss sufferers. For more information, please visit www.dnovobio.com.

About Felicis Ventures

Founded in 2006, Felicis Ventures is a venture capital firm investing in companies reinventing core markets, as well as those creating frontier technologies. Felicis focuses on early stage investments and currently manages over $2.1B in capital across 8 funds. The firm is an early backer of more than 41 companies valued at $1B+. More than 91 of its portfolio companies have been acquired or gone public, including Adyen (IPO), Credit Karma (acq by Intuit), Cruise (acq by General Motors), Fitbit (IPO), Guardant Health (IPO), Meraki (acq by Cisco), Ring (acq by Amazon), and Shopify (IPO). The firm is based in Menlo Park, CA. Learn more at www.felicis.com.

About Soma Capital

Formed in 2015, Soma Capital is a venture capital fund founded by entrepreneurs for entrepreneurs. Soma looks to invest across all sectors in technologies that can automate the world and push humanity forward. Soma has invested at seed in 20 unicorns and over 500 startups valued at over $80b combined, including Bolt, Ramp, Rippling, Rappi, Razorpay, and Embark Trucks among others. Learn more at www.somacap.com.

About Yintai Investment Company LLC

Yintai Investment Company LLC (www.yintai-us.com) pursues opportunities in real estate, private equity, and venture capital (with a focus on the entertainment, sports, and technology sectors). Founded in 2016, Yintai is headquartered in Beverly Hills.

About Direct Reprogramming Technology

Direct reprogramming is a technology that can convert one cell type to another using a set of genes known as reprogramming factors. This does not rely on generating induced pluripotent stem cells. Generating different cell types may require different sets of reprogramming factors. dNovo has discovered the reprogramming factors to convert skin into hair stem cells. Utilizing these factors, dNovo is using direct reprogramming to generate hair stem cells from skin derived cells and other cell types.


Ernesto Lujan, dNovo Inc.


Ernesto Lujan, dNovo Inc.