Interview with Cenk Sumen: Longevity through Hair Regeneration at Stemson’s Therapeutics in USA

We had an interview with Cenk Sumen during his previous working stage as the Chief Technology Officer (CTO) at Stemson’s Therapeutic in the USA; hosted by Tan Lay and Belma Alispahic. Cenk is an inspiring professional who has worked as a Cell Biochemist in the research labs of MIT and Stanford on antibody engineering and cell culture scale-up. One of his greatest achievements is developing a novel system for deconstructing the molecular events in T-cell antigen recognition while working with multiple sclerosis patients. Furthermore, Cenk has held technical, commercial, and strategy roles at industry pioneers such as STEMCELL Technologies, PerkinElmer, Hitachi, and Thermo Fisher.

At the moment, Cenk is currently working as Scientific Chief Officer at MaxCyte, Inc., focusing to build industry-leading cell engineering systems to enable the regulated delivery of any molecule into any cell. During Cenk previous role as the CTO at Stemson Therapeutics, his mission is to develop new technology that leverages the power of iPSC (induced pluripotent stem cells) to generate new hair follicles. Cenk’s role as a CTO makes him study how to regenerate failing tissues and the chromatin changes that occur with ageing, which is a big focus in longevity research: how to keep human organs and tissue systems from failing? Cenk says, ”Hair today, gone tomorrow!”, a very good model system for how organs fail. This brings us to the main speciality of Stemson’s therapeutics to unpack the biology of that now and understand the genomics behind the hair follicles. He is with us today on AnalysisMode podcast to tell us all about his journey at Stemsons Therapeutics and longevity through hair regeneration.

To get insight about the discussed topics:

[Host/Tan] – “How does replacing hair make us live longer?”

[Guest/Cenk ] – “The hair follicles form in foetal development, and there is a neural crest derived population that migrates. And this is something called neural crest and that neural crest forms these–almost looks like a tulip bud–it’s the dermal papilla, a very tight collection of mesenchymal cells. And that dermal papilla is a study in ageing itself because it can get damaged with multiple insults, just like many processes in the body; it could be sun damage, it can be chemical damage, it could be damage from signalling or androgenic alopecia, it can be damage from hormonal processes, chemical processes, and the end result is that essentially you can look at it as accelerated ageing for the DP.”“When we named the company Stemson, it was an allusion to the biblical hero Samson, whose power comes from his hair – in the story. “

[Host/Tan] – “Yes, of course – Samson and Delilah! “

[Guest/Cenk ] – “That’s right. And that’s another angle is that hair loss also occurs in females as well, just as often, but it’s often more stigmatised and females don’t feel comfortable talking about it. And there’s a whole unmet need in female hair loss, too, that we need to recognize and to help treat.”“So for me, it’s a really good demonstration that tissue that’s ageing can be repaired, regenerated if you can really figure out how these cells work and why you’re getting miscommunication, mis signalling–why certain networks are becoming uncalibrated as it were at a molecular level, understanding this really helps us understand ageing in general. So it’s a very powerful approach. “


To listen to the complete conversation on Analysismode podcast, you can check our episode