A week ago, important news came out from Japan that the Organ Technologies and RIKEN team (led by Dr. Takashi Tsuji) partnership was making progress in its development of a cure for hair loss that they still aim for commercial release in 2020. The latest update mentions that the team has succeeded in creating equipment that “allows for more efficient mass production of such hair follicle cells”.
They will conduct safety trials on mice starting next month. If all goes well, human trials will commence next year. Since new Japanese laws related to clinical trials are aimed at speeding up the process, it is not out of the realm to aim for a 2020 product release. Especially since this autologous treatment entails using ones own cells (and multiplying them), implying less likelihood of major side effects. Key new quote from Dr. Tsuji:
“The latest results indicate that we have gone beyond the research stage. We will seek to industrialize a technology born in Japan.”
Not Impressed at Speed
A significant number of people posted links about this news; or e-mailed me about it; or criticized me about not covering it and instead focusing on hair systems and celebrity news (I deleted all insulting comments).
While I was very glad to read this positive update from the RIKEN team, I delayed this post primarily because I was not too impressed with the speed of progress in their research and trials. So I first chose to discuss the two new video updates in the previous two blog posts.
I thought that by now the Tsuji team must have already started work in humans. Clearly an incorrect assumption.
Edit: Thanks to “PinotQ” for pointing out the following paragraph from Organ Technology’s press release, which sounds like a big breakthrough:
“Previously, epithelial stem cells had not been identified, and it was known that the hair follicle regenerative capacity of cells disappears while cultured in vitro. However, we have overcome these problems with mouse and human cells after research activities over 7 years.”
Tsuji Still the Man
We have already known for several years that this RIKEN/Tsuji team aims to release their treatment in 2020. Both of my posts in 2016 that were related to this at-the-time groundbreaking news (see here and here) garnered around 300 comments each. At the time, there was justifiable reason for major excitement. This work represented the breakthrough that we had been awaiting for decades. Moreover, all four parties involved (Organ Technologies, Kyocera, RIKEN and Dr. Tsuji) have great reputations. Each brings unique strengths to the table. Most importantly, funding would never be an issue for this work due to involvement of large corporations as well as the Japanese government (via RIKEN).
Last year, I conducted a future hair loss treatment related poll on this blog. This work, led by Dr. Tsuji’s team, came in as the 2nd most looked forward to treatment that people were most optimistic about. I would definitely rank it as number 1 most important, as would numerous others on various hair loss forums out there.