Category Archives: Hair Regeneration

Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells and Hair Regeneration

An excellent new study from Thailand just got published on May 30th in Frontiers in Cell and Developmental Biology. It examines the current status and advances in hair regeneration via induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs).

It also compares in detail hair regeneration via this method versus via follicular cell sources. I found this bifurcation very interesting.

I covered Thailand in past posts regarding doctors over there pioneering the use of oral Minoxidil for hair growth (20 plus years ago). Note that Thailand is also the world’s leader when it comes to gender reassignment surgery.

Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells Hair Growth
Human Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells (hiPSCs) and Hair Growth. Source: Front. Cell Dev. Biol., 30 May 2023.

Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells for Hair Regeneration

The two authors of this study are from the Siriraj Center for Regenerative Medicine and the faculty of medicine at Siriraj Hospital.

When it comes to hair follicle regeneration from human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs), the authors break it out into the following categories:

  1. Generation of individual hair follicle components. Further broken out into a) iPSC-derived trichogenic dermal cells. b) iPSC-derived folliculogenic epidermal cells. c) In vitro reconstruction of HFs with iPSC-derived dermal and epidermal cells.
  2. Generation of entire hair follicles from iPSCs. Further broken out into a) 3D integumentary organ system (IOS). b) Skin organoid.

When it comes to the 3D IOS method, they give the example of Dr. Takashi Tsuji and his RIKEN team’s success at generating a bioengineered 3D integumentary organ system (IOS) from mouse iPSCs (miPSCs). They also refer to studies by Ohyama and Tsuboi (lead researcher at Shiseido) that I have discussed in the past.

They also mention Dr. Koehler’s work that I covered in my post on hair-bearing human skin generated entirely from pluripotent stem cells. And of course they mention Stemson Therapeutics co-founder Dr. Terskikh and his past papers. When I interviewed the latter in 2017, he mentioned iPSCs in great detail.

Other subjects covered in the paper that I discussed in the past include biomimetic engineering of human hair and 3D culturing of hair cells.

Hair Follicle Regeneration from Follicular Cell Sources

The authors divide the follicular cell based hair regeneration methods into the following categories:

  1. Dermal papilla cells. Several decades ago, 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. And South Korea’s Epibiotech and Han Bio both seem to be rapidly progressing with this technology.
  2. Dermal sheath cup cells. This is what Shiseido is doing in Japan via the use and improvement of Replicel (Canada)’s technology.
  3. Hair follicle stem cells. The main disadvantage of this method with current culturing methods is rapid loss of stem cell abilities and spontaneous differentiation. Of interest, they mention a new March 2023 study from Fukuda et. al in relation to hair follicle stem cell expansion in hair regenerative medicine.

Make sure to also read my November 2022 post on effective cell therapy for hair regeneration. It was based on a very detailed new research paper authored by Epibiotech’s CEO.

Comparison of Cell Based vs hiPSC Based Methods

The below table from the new study is very useful. It compares the advantages and disadvantages of each method of hair regeneration.

The clear danger of the hiPSC method is potential tumorigenesis. Hence the reason why Stemson Therapeutics and OrganTech have to go through rigorous clinical trials. However, in return, iPSCs have the advantages of unlimited starting material, unlimited expansion and intrinsic hair-inductive ability.

iPSC versus cell based hair regeneration.
Comparison of iPSC versus hair follicle cell based hair regeneration. Source: Front. Cell Dev. Biol., 30 May 2023.


The paper makes the following statements towards the end that are of significance:

  • Autologous transplantation of dermal sheath cup cells (DSCs) is useful for patients with male and female pattern hair loss.
  • The generation of DSCs from hiPSCs may provide an unlimited source of cells for transplantation.
  • Nevertheless, bioengineered hair follicles are still required for some type of hair loss that involve entire hair follicles. Therefore, generating hair follicles through a biomimetic developmental approach is of interest.
  • Recent understanding of hair biology and iPSC technology offers hope for the generation of hair follicle components and entire hair follicles from hiPSCs.
  • Several approaches for reconstructing hair follicles from hiPSCs have been established. However, fully functional bioengineered hair follicles have yet to be developed.
  • Nevertheless, the authors conclude that these newer strategies for de novo folliculogenesis bring us one step closer to the ultimate goal.

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).