Update: RIKEN added a brief summary of this development on its site and included the below photo on its home page:
Update: Commentator “sets” e-mailed Kyocera and got a response:
“Hello. My name is Hina Morioka from the Corporate Communications Division at Kyocera Corporation. Thank you very much for your question about our research with RIKEN and Organ Technologies.
Regarding timeline, we aim to put the technologies into practical use and make medical treatment available in 2020 in Japan (medical treatment at one’s own expense).”
I was planning on publishing an entirely different post today, but things continue moving along rapidly in the hair loss research world and you regularly encounter sudden usually pleasant surprises. In the last post, commentator “Lewa” just brought to my attention that major Japanese electronics manufacturer Kyocera was entering the hair regeneration market via a collaboration with the government-affiliated RIKEN Institute in Japan (where the renowned Dr. Takashi Tsuji leads the hair related research department) and Organ Technologies in Japan (a company in which Dr. Tsuji is one of the directors). In that article, I read that they plan to commence clinical trials BY 2020, but that they also planned to start their business IN 2020. They will develop prototype equipment by March 2018. Very ambitious and rapid progression targets, but if it can be done anywhere, it would be in Japan where the government is very supportive of expediting research. With the addition of Kyocera into the mix, Dr. Tsuji now has access to funding that all other hair researchers around the world can only dream of. The only other hair loss cure research related company with this kind of funding access is also based in Japan in the name of Shiseido.
At first I was only intending to mention the above development in my once a month “brief items of interest” post. However, then I discovered an even better version of the above article on Kyocera’s website. This second article is far less ambiguous when it comes to the dates and therefore this development deserves its own post now. Key quotes from the above second article:
“The companies aim to put the technologies into practical use in 2020.”
“Kyocera, RIKEN and Organ Technologies plan to establish cell culture and transplant technologies and develop devices for transplantation, aiming to put the technologies into practical use for the treatment of human alopecia in 2020 in Japan.”
Update: Forbes magazine now has a story on this news too.
Update: A brief Japan Times summary.
The division of labor between the partner companies will be as follows:
Kyocera = Development of cell processing devices via the utilization of its microfabrication and manufacturing technologies.
RIKEN and Organ Technologies = “Development of stem cell culture/amplification technologies, development of cell manipulation technologies, establishment of production processes, implementation of preclinical studies, etc.”
The technology (“regenerated follicular primordium” via a combination of epithelial stem cells and mesenchymal stem cells) being developed is outlined in the bottom part of the below image taken from Kyocera’s press release. Top image shows a modern day FUT (strip) hair transplant procedure with limited donor hair supply limitations.