Acne, eczema, psoriasis – skin conditions can range from being uncomfortable to embarrassing to downright painful. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, more than 85 million Americans and almost a billion people globally suffer from skin diseases.
Inspired by a need to help those suffering from various skin disorders, a Rady School of Management alumna created a dermatology company that recently partnered with Johnson & Johnson as part of a new collaboration aimed at creating new innovative treatments to help millions of people around the world achieve healthier skin.
Lada Rasochova (MBA ‘08) – who also serves as the executive director of the California Institute for Innovation and Development at Rady – started Dermala, a consumer dermatology company that uses the human microbiome to develop better treatments for skin diseases and various skin conditions based on technology licensed from the University of California San Diego.
The human microbiome is the collection of all microbes that live on and in our bodies. We have ten times more microbial cells than human cells and hundred times more microbial genes than human genes.
“The microbiome is very important for our health. When our body’s microbiome gets disrupted it typically results in a disease, including skin diseases,” Rasochova said. “When the microbiome is brought back into balance, health can be restored.”
Using a variety of microbiome-based products ranging from topical treatment to oral probiotics, Dermala targets the many causes of skin diseases without using harsh chemicals. For example, Dermala’s products for the treatment of acne inhibit acne causing bacteria while promoting beneficial bacteria in the microbiome which restores healthier, acne-free skin.
Dermala is not your average skincare company – in addition to topical and oral treatments, each customer will receive a microbiome sample collection kit. By measuring an individual’s skin and gut microbiome, Dermala will be able to optimize the treatments to fit the specific needs of their customers.
“Most consumer dermatology products are developed for an average customer,” Rasochova said. “Dermala is different. This isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution similar to all the other treatments currently on the market. We optimize the treatment based on the microbiome and treatment outcomes.”
The decision to partner with Johnson & Johnson was an obvious one. When Dermala launched, the company was accepted into JLABS, the Johnson & Johnson Innovation incubator that supports startup companies in the healthcare sector.
“Johnson & Johnson is a leader in consumer dermatology,” Rasochova said. “Being located at JLABS definitely helped us get noticed. This partnership with Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc. and Johnson & Johnson Innovation LLC will help us accelerate the technology development and take it to market.”
Dermala recently launched microbiome-based treatments for acne that received overwhelming positive feedback from its first round of customers. Currently, Dermala is working on incorporating into the treatment regimen the microbiome analysis and a mobile application that customers will use to track their treatment progress while using the Dermala products. In addition to acne, Dermala is also working on developing eczema treatments and several microbiome-based anti-aging products.
Rasochova credits her time at the Rady School for helping her develop and launch her successful business.
“My time as an MBA student at the Rady School was transformational,” she said. “It helped me, as a scientist, see the big pictures and see the business case really clearly. The Rady School helped me take the science and turn it into a business.”