Category Archives: Adipose-Derived Stem Cells (ADSC)

Effective Cell Therapy for Hair Regeneration

Update: Epibiotech CEO Sung (who is the author of the new paper covered in this post) is answering our questions in the comments this week. Please note that English is not his first language.

Earlier this month, Epibiotech CEO Jong-Hyuk Sung published a detailed new paper titled “Effective and economical cell therapy for hair regeneration.” It was widely covered in South Korean media (h/t “Theo”, who also sent me this update on Mr. Sung’s presentation covering the paper). They call him Seong Jong-Hyeok in that article.

My interest piqued when I read such a thorough scientific paper from a CEO (almost unheard of in this industry). I showed it to a well known hair transplant doctor, and he found it to be a great summary. I also e-mailed one of Epibiotech’s media representatives with some questions, but no response so far.

Adipose, Dermal Papilla and Dermal Sheath Cells

Note that Dr. Sung has publiched numerous papers on adipose-derived stem cells (ADSC) and hair regeneration (and wound healing) for 15 years. This CEO seems to be a scientist first and foremost, rather than a business person.

This latest paper covers the three main types of cell based hair regeneration treatment strategies that are currently being developed:

  1. Adipose-derived stem cells (ADSC or ASC).
  2. Dermal papilla cells (DPC).
  3. Dermal papilla epithelial cup cells, better kown as dermal sheath cup cells (DPSC or DSC).

The paper also mentions the manufacturing of hair organoids using induced pluripotent stem cells. Including a shout out to Dr. Takashi Tsuji.

  • Note that Shiseido (including its use of Replicel’s technology) is working on a hair regeneration treatment involving culturing of dermal sheath cup cells. More details here.
  • Also note that in the past, Aderans and Intercytex both saw some success in hair growth via dermal papilla cell culturing and injection into balding scalps. HairClone is currently trying something similar.

Dr. Sung’s company Epibiotech is ultimately driven by “Off-the-shelf” allogeneic DPC therapy. It aims to begin Phase 1 clinical trials for its EPI-001 dermal papilla cell hair multiplication treatment in 2023. We are all hopeful that things will move faster in Asia in comparison to the US or Western Europe. The company can already mass-produce dermal papilla cells with hair growth ability using spheroid culture, hypoxic conditions, and growth factors.

Cell Therapy Hair Growth
Cell therapy for hair growth. Adipose, dermal papilla and dermal sheath cup cells. Source: Biomedicine & Pharmacotherapy, January 2023.

Adipose Derived Stem Cells

Given the author’s background, the paper is especially detailed when it comes to ADSC (ASC). Dr. Sung highlights the pros and cons.

    • Adipose-derived stem cells are easy to access and isolate in large quantities. This is not true when it comes to dermal papilla cells and dermal sheath cup cells.
    • While ASCs promote hair growth through the paracrine effect, they have a poor potential in hair neogenesis. Dr. Sung suggests further development in methods to enhance the trichogenecity of ASCs.

Other New Studies on Hair Regeneration

As if this was not enough, two new papers on hair regenearation came out in the past month.

  • A lierature review from Japan coveres numerous cell therapies for hair regrowth. This includes mesenchymal stem cell (MSC) implantation. Adult sources of MSC include: adipose tissue (including SVF); bone marrow; DPC; DSC; placenta and umbilical cord. The paper also analyzes non-cell therapies, including exosomes, extracellular matrix, platelet-rich plasma, and the MSC secretome. The last mentioned “comprises bioactive materials, such as growth factors, cytokines and nucleic acids that play an important role in regulating the hair follicle cycle and regeneration”.
  • A new study from China on microenvironmental reprogramming of human dermal papilla cells for hair follicle tissue engineering.
  • And finally, a recent video on regenerative medicine for hair loss starring Dr. Jerry Cooley (interviewed by Dr. Robert Haber).

Nanofat and Adipose Tissue Hair Growth

I have written numerous posts in relation to fat cells (adipose tissue) and hair growth. There is clear evidence that adipose-derived stem cells (ADSC) on the scalp impact hair growth. The latest trend at hair clinics entails combination nanofat and platelet-rich plasma (PRP) hair growth treatments. Note that instead of nanofat, some also use the term microfat transfer or grafting.

Update: October 2021 — Emerging role of dermal white adipose tissue in modulating hair follicle development during aging.

Nanofat Injections for Hair Growth

Nanofat Injection Hair Growth
Nanofat for Hair Growth.

During several of last year’s hair loss conferences, a number of presentations entailed nanofat injections into the scalp. Some use the term Autologous Lipocyte Micronized Injection (ALMI) for this procedure.

Most of these fat and adipose-derived stem cell related topics are classified under “stem cell” treatments for hair loss. Note that adipose-derived stem cells (ADSCs) are mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs)

Nanofat injections have been used for many years when it comes to regenerative medicine applications. Usage in hair loss sufferers is more recent. A 2020 study from China found human-derived concentrated nanofat promoted hair growth in mice. The mechanism of action entails activation of dermal papilla cells via the Wnt/β-catenin pathway. Also of interest, a clinical trial from China that tested nanofat grafting for treating androgenetic alopecia ended last year. I am guessing that the results will be published this year.

Perhaps the first study to find benefits from nanofat in male pattern hair loss sufferers came from Italy in 2017. These gains in hair growth lasted even 12 months after initial treatment. The fat was obtained via liposuction using the Tulip Nano device. Also from Italy, Dr. Piero Tesauro is a leading practitioner of nanofat transplantation.

In the US, doctors are increasingly offering combination treatments that include PRP and nanofat. According to Dr. Cheryl Karcher:

“When nanofat is used for hair restoration, she injects it first. She then injects the patient’s PRP on top of it to act as a fertilizer for the nanofat.”

However, in the same article, Dr. Robert Singer warns that there is as yet no safety or efficacy data surrounding nano-fat treatment for hair growth. It should be noted that the somewhat related SVF/Kerastem treatment has shown promising results.

Dermal Adipose Tissue Promotes Hair Growth and Pigmentation

Also of interest, a January 2021 study found that dermal adipose tissue secretes hepatocyte growth factor (HGF). This in turn promotes both human hair growth and hair pigmentation. Among the co-authors of this paper include Dr. Ralf Paus (see Monasterium) and Dr. Maksim Plikus (see Plikus Lab).

What was especially interesting to me in this new 2021 paper was a link to a 2019 paper. Apparently, autologous fat grafting to the face can in rare instances lead to unwanted hair growth (hirsutism). Further evidence of the connection between adipose cells and hair cells.

Fat Grafting Hair Growth
Hirsutism from facial autologous fat grafting. Source: Karger.