Category Archives: RCH-01

So its Shiseido/Replicel versus Kyocera/RIKEN/ Tsuji at the Kobe Biomedical Innovation Cluster (KBIC)

Update: And in other important news from Japan from this week:

— Dr. Tsuji published a new paper several days ago.

— Pokemon Go was finally launched in Japan, its spiritual homeland.


Without any doubt, there has never been a better year than this one in the hair loss research world.  The last four months have been especially fruitful, and I am not even considering a number of newer entrants in the field (just because most seem suspicious or are likely to produce best case results that will be akin to those from Rogaine). Key noteworthy recent developments:

  • First, in April, Follica (which had been left for dead by many due to its numerous conflicting signals since inception in 2006) surprised us and is clearly alive and aims to release its product in 2018 in a best case scenario.  The company’s majority owner PureTech stated in a summary document that “skin disruption alone was safe and generates new follicles as well as new hair“.
  • Thereafter, in June, Aclaris Therapeutics’ CEO Mr. Neal Walker clearly stated at three difference investor presentation that “topical covalently bound highly selective JAK3 inhibitors” work in treating androgenetic alopecia and not just in treating alopecia areata. Alcaris will be conducting trials on this use of JAK inhibitors in 2017.
  • Also in June, Histogen made a surprising announcement that it would start treating patients in Mexico in 2018.  Like Follica, many people had left Histogen for dead due to the fact that the company has been involved in hair loss research for a similarly lengthy period of time with mixed signals in terms of efficacy, clinical trial and product release dates.
  • Then, in July came perhaps the most exciting news ever in the hair loss cure research world.  RIKEN/Dr. Takashi Tsuji, Kyocera and Organ Technologies have formed a partnership that aims to commercially release a product in 2020 that will essentially represent a cure for hair loss.  2020 is clearly a best case scenario assuming no major hiccups along the way.  Mr. Tsuji is a world renowned and extremely well respected and modest scientist; RIKEN has access to Japanese government funds and to numerous leading scientists in the world of regenerative medicine; Kyocera is a private sector multinational behemoth with pre-existing hardware side technology and expertise that will likely be of much use to Dr. Tsuji.
  • And finally, today the Shiseido/Replicel team finally announced the commencement of delayed clinical trials in Japan (see bottom part of this post).

RIKEN and Dr. Tsuji are conducting their research at the Kobe Biomedical Innovation Cluster (KBIC) in Japan in RIKEN’s Integrated Innovation Building.

File:RIKEN Integrated Innovation Building.JPG

Shiseido/Replicel Joins Kyocera/RIKEN/ Tsuji at the KBIC

Today, in yet one more major positive development this year, it was announced that the Shiseido/Replicel team has finally started its delayed 60-person (men and women included) Japanese clinical trials for its autologous cell therapy based RCH-01 product.  While the study will be conducted at two hospitals in Tokyo, the injected product(s) will be manufactured by Shiseido at their SPEC (Cell-Processing and Expansion Center) in KBIC.  I discussed this facility in a post in 2014. It is located in the below Business Support Center for Biomedical Research Activities (BMA) building in KBIC.

Business Support Center for Biomedical Research Activities (BMA) Main Picture

So Shiseido and RIKEN’s respective research and development work will be conducted at buildings within a mile of each other according to this map (both buildings are on the right side of the railroad).

While doing research on KBIC, I found that it is located on Port Island in the city of Kobe, and Port Island is an artificially constructed island. Would be quite something if humans end up creating new replacement hair follicles on a man-made island.

Yet Another Replicel Interview

This one with Lee Buckler, the vice president of business and corporate development for RepliCel.  Few more details on the company’s pending phase II trials, including frequency of injections:

How RepliCel Is Harnessing the Awesome Power of Cell Therapy

Great often missed point:

With a cell transplant, there is no limit to the number of cells we can grow to use in regenerating poorly functioning hair follicles.

I disagree with Lee’s statement that:

Second, hair transplantation only achieves a satisfactory result when performed by a gifted surgeon, of which there are few.

In my opinion, there are at least several hundred great hair transplant surgeons in the world today, and the ARTAS robot is enabling  numerous strip surgeons to become “gifted” when it comes to FUE.  I think in most cases, satisfaction is more closely related to expectations rather than surgeons these days.  A Norwood 5 will not be happy if he expects a Norwood 1 type final result after a hair transplant. Because strip hair transplant surgery is becoming obsolete, scarring and nerve damage are also no longer as big an issue (albeit still possible) with FUE hair transplants.

Another major reason for hair transplant patient dissatisfaction is that the existing hair in the transplanted area will continue to die, even when taking Finasteride for many people.  So in essence, the result immediately post transplant will only continue to slowly worsen in most hair transplant patients.  And in the long run, even the “permanent” transplanted hair is not always permanent, as can be seen in many older people’s totally denuded or sparse donor regions.  In fact even in my 30s, my supposedly “permanent” donor hair at the back of my scalp is significantly less dense than in was in my 20s.