Category Archives: Dermal Papilla Cells

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.

Hair Grown in Pigs from Human Dermal Papilla Cells

We regularly hear about research involving hair growth in rats, mice, rabbits, hamsters and macaques. However, I have never read about scientists managing to successfully grow human hair in pigs. Until now.

Note that pig (porcine) skin has striking similarities to human skin. Thanks to reader “Bryan” for first posting about the below new study.

Hair growth in pigs.
Hair growth in pigs from human dermal papilla cell injections. Source: Experimental Dermatology.

Hair Growth in Pigs from Human Dermal Papilla Cells

In April 2023, Epibiotech CEO Jong-Hyuk Sung co-wrote an interesting letter in Experimental Dermatology. It entails his team’s success in growing hair in pigs via the injection of human dermal papilla cells (hDPCs). The initial phase of this work on pigs was also discussed in Epibiotech’s past updates.

Note that Mr. Sung has published a number of important hair related studies for more than a decade. In November 2022, I covered his highly interesting new summary paper on effective cell therapy for hair regeneration. He even responded to some reader comments in that post.

Hairy Pig
A hairy pig rendition.

Coming back to this latest paper, the conclusion was that intradermal hDPC injections in pigs increased the hair follicle number, thickness and angiogenesis. Moreover, a single injection of hDPCs seems to be effective and survives for more than 3 months in clinical study.

Key quote (slightly reworded):

“Though numerous past research findings indicate the hair growth promoting effects of human DPCs in rodents, preclinical or clinical application alone has not been reported in pigs until now.”

The research team injected hDPCs into the backs of three pigs across six sites. After just one injection of hDPCs, hair follicle numbers increased for three months. And hair follicle thickness was increased for one month.

Interestingly, there was no difference in hair follicle quantity and thickness between low- and high-dose delivery of human dermal papilla cells. Also of note, the number of microvessels around the hair follicles was increased in the hDPC-treated group.

Normally (after 10 years at this), I would not write an entire post for such a one-off animal model study. However, two factors made me reconsider:

  1. The involvement of Epibiotech’s CEO in the research.
  2. Considering the fact that this is the first ever report on human dermal papilla injection spurred hair growth in pigs.

Also of note, this research was funded by the South Korean government via the Korea Drug Development Fund and the Korean Fund for Regenerative Medicine. Yet more reason to trust the legitimacy and reputability.