A Visit to Fukuda Lab at Yokohama National

I have covered the work of esteemed and prolific Japanese hair loss researcher Dr. Junji Fukuda for almost ten years. I have also written the below two detailed posts about his findings. The second of these is very lengthy because I have kept updating it for a few years.

Make sure to check out the Yokohama National University based Fukuda Lab’s hair research page.

A Visit to Fukuda Lab at Yokohama National

Reader “Theo” just sent me a link to a very interesting diary of a hair transplant surgeon from Japan who just visited the Fukuda Lab.

Note that while Dr. Fukuda is based at Yokohama National University, the research seems to be taking place at Kanagawa Life Innovation Center (per the above link). One of the images also mentions the Kanagawa Center for Clinical Research & Strategy (KCCR). Yokohama is the second largest city in Japan and is the capital of Kanagawa Prefecture. Check out this PDF of the regenerative medicine sector at Kanagawa Prefecture.

From this visit and summary, I learn some very interesting things. There are three distinct methods in which Dr. Fukuda is pursuing hair regeneration. I mentioned them in my past lengthy post too, but now we have more clarity.

1) Dermal Papilla Cell Transplantation

“Dermal papilla cell transplantation is about to begin in Japan.

Transplantation of dermal papilla cells (via stratified culture). I assume that the “stratified cuture” in the translation means 3D culturing. Dr. Fukuda mentions that Shiseido already conducted a clinical trial using 2D culturing. In this method, cells are are lined up on a flat surface when culturing, but it only resulted in a 5% increase in hair volume. The 3D method will likely be superior and the clinical trials are about to finally begin! It is hoped to be “put into practical use within five years”.

2) Transplantation of Hair Follicle Primordium

“I think this will take some time.”

The creation of hair follicle primordia means generating hair from scratch. i.e., hair multiplication. I previously discussed the Yokohama team’s process of achieving this via increasing and mixing epithelial cells and mesenchymal cells. These then form “hair follicle primordia“ that are transplanted to the same donor’s scalp in order to regenerate hair in thinning regions of the scalp.

Per the latest feedback from Dr. Fukuda, while this process has already been proven by them in mice, human hair is a different animal. Once the primordium tissue is transplanted to human heads, the direction and length grow haphazardly. He thinks that this will take some time.

3) Transplantation of Regenerated Hair Follicles in Vitro (Organoids)

“It will likely take more than 10 years before it can be used in humans.”

The final method is in vitro regenerated hair follicle transplantation (also called organoid). In this process, hair follicles are regenerated outside the body, lengthened by almost 100%, and then transplanted into the scalp. Per Dr. Fukuda, it will likely take more than 10 years before it can be used in humans.

Other Notes

In March 2023, Dr. Fukuda and his Yokohama team published an important hair regeneration related study. They made an improvement in the expansion of hair follicle stem cells (HFSCs) and dermal papilla cells via the use of a newly designed microwell array device.

The Fukuda Lab has even undertaken research on electric stimulation of human dermal papilla cells for hair regeneration.

So in one day we get two very unique insights and forecasts from Japan! Thanks again to “Theo” for all the stellar non-English language updates from Japan and South Korea.

Fukuda Lab Hair Research
Fukuda Lab’s hair research summary poster. Source:
Naohiro Uchida, Director of Almo Plastic Clinic Hair Transplantation.

23 thoughts on “A Visit to Fukuda Lab at Yokohama National”

  1. The below is the hair transplant surgeon’s website. Maybe he will test out the dermal papilla cell transplanation procedure since he is a fan of Dr. Fukuda’s work. Plus now knows him well after the in-person visit and writeup.

    https://almoprs-clinic.jp/

  2. So besides for development number 3, this is the same thing that hairclone and epibiotech is doing.

    Meaning that if you are already slick bald, it’s basically useless.

  3. From my understanding, method 1 is extracting dermal papilla from the back of one’s head and mass multiplying them and placing those cells in balding areas?

  4. Quite disappointing news from those of us who had put our hope in hair cloning in Fukuda. Its clinical trials will basically be the same as what HairClone intended to do and regarding the time to put it into practice (5 years) is also disappointing… The only point for hope is to know if by multiplying the dermal papilla cells of follicles from the donor area (immune to DHT) and injecting them into the follicles of the areas affected by alopecia, these follicles will become immune to DHT.

  5. Thanks for covering Fukuda and Tsuji so extensively.

    I must admit I am hugely disappointed about the timelines, even the „easy“ technique is 5 years away, the organoids „more than 10
    years“ and the primordia somewhere in between. I think we all agree that the latter two are the more interesting.

    I originally thought Fukuda is far ahead, but he actually isn’t. His DP- method is basically the same as Epibiotech‘s and Hairclone‘s. I can’t even imagine how to sell a 10-years-plus-plan for a product to some VC or other investors (Rohto?). I also don’t get why it would take so long after almost 10 years of R&D and countless high-quality research papers. It’s a bummer actually.

    Well anyhow. At least we got good news from Tsuji, who is about to start trials this year. And of course Stemson, which is clearly taking the lead now: biggest team, highest funding, holistic approach, clear timeline. I don’t have any expectations from Kangstem.

    1. Hi Ben, I share the same disappointment with you in regards to Fukuda. Sometimes it is hard to keep a positive attitude as a bald man lol.

      Does anyone know the timeline for Stemson or Tsuji? What is a realistic estimate for clinical use?

      1. It‘s like a never ending circle of hope and disappointment, isn‘t it? Yet I remain positive, it’s weird.

        I mean the positive side is that they are still planning in doing it, but if they really pull through is a completely different story. 10 years is insane, and so many things can happen in this time.

        Tsuji starts (as per several statements from Kondo and Tsuji) this year and (if all goes perfectly well) will finish trials approximately 2 years after initiation. After that? I don’t know how long a commercialisation would need. I guess it would be very expensive too.

        Stemson starts trials in 2026, that seems pretty nailed on. It’s autologous, so if they find a similar regulations environment like Tsuji they might be ready by 2028. I think they are much better at rolling out, as they develop their tech suiting existing hair-transplant-devices.

        I think it makes more sense to root for Pelage, Amplifica, Hope-Med, Kintor, Technoderma. All of which are in clinical trials already.

    2. Could not keep up with a majority of this if not for the regular feedback from people such as Theo and yourself Ben.

      I am hopeful that Fukuda can improve significantly on Shiseido’s results when it comes to the dermal papilla cell transplant results. And perhaps find a way to legally treat people in Japan well before 5 years.

      1. That’s what I think too, even Hairclone could trial it under a special regulation in GB immediately (if they would get their s*** together finally), so Japan should be even easier.

        I translated the interview from Japanese into German and it’s as always very confusing. I cannot rule out there’s some crucial information „lost in translation“ and some of these quotes are taken out of context.

        Eventually it’s a blog from a hair transplant surgeon, he‘s definitely biased and this new tech could possibly take him out of business.

        I mean, why would Fukuda say their prime tech is 10+ years away? Seems very odd to me, if not self-harming.

        And the Primordia-paper is from 2018, 6 years ago. I seriously doubt they are not ready to trial this very soon.

        I am slightly confused about this „news“ and it’s definitely not an official statement from TrichoSeeds.

        On another note, is there a chance to get an interview from Pelage?

  6. I totally agree with you Ben, it doesn’t seem like the cure is close even if we want to believe it. Reading Stemson’s last interview that friend Yoyo shared, we have to assume that hair cloning is incredibly complex and I don’t think the cure is exactly close… I would like to continue trusting Tsuji for a cure within a reasonable period of time, but honestly from his interviews I do not believe that his clinical trials are aimed at the transplantation of new follicles or seeds of new follicles, but rather at the transplantation of regenerated cells and the use of medicines. Therefore, only Stemson seems to be heading only towards clinical trials of hair cloning and we know that its deadlines until reaching practice will not be less than 10 years.

  7. This is all very disappointing.

    I know things take time but it feels like they’ve had plenty of time and we always hear “5 more years” just to hear the same thing (or worse) at the end of the 5 years. It makes me think they’re not even close, which is bizarre to me.

    I no longer believe in any of these timeframes they put out. And honestly, at least at the moment (ask me again next week and I may change my mind), I don’t believe there will even be a cure in my lifetime (I’m not exactly old but I’m far from young).

    I have multiple long term illnesses and I can tell you for several of them there has been zero advancements in the last 30-50 years. Or very very few (and none of them important or impacting). I know we’ve made some progress on a few fronts (not saying we haven’t made any at all), but medical science remains incredibly and excruciatingly (and frustratingly) slow.

    1. I think all of us feel this way James… It’s frustrating to put our hopes in studies and research that seem solid and well-founded but that simply remain that, in studies… I’m sure that millions of people would be willing to offer themselves volunteers to carry out a clinical trial on themselves but there is never a clinical trial to test if something works. Perhaps androgenic alopecia has a genetic origin, determined by our genes, which in turn determines our appearance, the cure for this and other diseases of this type is tremendously difficult to achieve in our time, which makes me feel disappointed and deceived. for feeling excitement and hope in those studies that in the end remain just that, studies…

  8. I couldn’t agree more with this quote from Ben: “It‘s like a never ending circle of hope and disappointment, isn‘t it? Yet I remain positive, it’s weird.”

    1. Positive is good, being realistic is crucial. I’ve learned over the years to never get too vested in any one potential future treatment and not to be so hopeful that you don’t use what’s available now (and seek better versions, e.g. compounded topicals, oral minox, etc.). We all want something better, it won’t happen until it happens. Wishing and praying, putting wool over eyes won’t make it appear any sooner.

  9. My hope is that machine learning, advancements in AI and quantum computing will be used to develop a cure much quicker and solve complex problems plaguing these scientists.

  10. Man 2035 it’s not worth it waiting anymore and we don’t even know if the world will exist by 2035 . So your telling me Dr takashi tsuji is 10 plus years away and junji Fukuda trichoseeds Co is also 10+ years away and stemsons therapeutics is 15 years away ! Damn I’ve been waiting since 2016 to hear how everything is going and just to prove myself right and you admin and yoyo were giving me a hard time for stating the obvious 2035 that’s way too far away I’m done with this blog sorry admin you do a great job with this blog but I don’t want to come here anymore it’s not healthy for me or anyone.

  11. Forget hair loss, marc needs to learn the cure for run on sentences, called a period. Come on man, we’re all hoping for a quicker pace. I don’t believe Admin is misleading or giving false hope, just reporting on all thing hair loss and related. I enjoy reading this blog, don’t agree 100% with everything, appreciate Admin and the work he puts in. Remember, he’s in this struggle with us.

    1. If I did not have hair loss for 20 plus years (and take various medications over that time), I would be unable to fake the passion or keep up the work ethic in running this blog.

      Only 1/3 of the time is spent on writing actual post content. A lot more stuff happens behind the scenes. Including running social media accounts, SEO related content modifications, advertiser outreach, theme and plugin updates, hosting/domain/SSL timely renewals, figuring out improvements when some pages take too long to load, site backups, countering site hacking attempts, comment approvals and responses, spam removal and regular spam folder browsing, keeping up with Google news alerts, replying to numerous emails, keeping in touch with industry leaders, trying to get interviews and much more.

      I have only 3 advertisers right now, so am pushing these affiliate shampoo posts more unfortunately :-( Am also trying the below for the first time, which I hate far less than intrusive Google Ads.

      https://www.buymeacoffee.com/hlc2020

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