Category Archives: Replicel

The University of Calgary and Jeff Biernaskie

Update: April 2020 — Dr. Jeff Biernaskie and his team (led by graduate student Wisoo Shin) just made an important new discovery. They found that hair loss is caused by progressive dysfunction of message-sending fibroblasts due to aging dermal stem cells. Fully functioning dermal stem cells are required to maintain fibroblast populations. Actual paper is published in Developmental Cell.

Apparently, hair loss research to date has mostly focused on keratinocytes, the cells that make up the bulk of the hair follicle. However, a loss of dermal stem cells prevents production of new fibroblasts. Fibroblasts in the hair follicle are crucial, since they send messages to the keratinocytes. These messages tell the keratinocytes when to divide, which in turn orchestrates the repeating cycles of hair follicle growth and shedding.

These latest findings will also impact research into skin regeneration and wound healing.

Jeff Biernaskie, Fibroblasts and Dermal Hair Stem Cells
Dr. Biernaskie and his team. New findings that aging dermal stem cells and fibroblasts lead to hair loss.

Update: February 2015 — An interesting and fairly technical article on dermal cups and dermal stem cells. Includes a great summary of the recent work by Dr. Jeff Biernaskie as well as a brief mention on Replicel’s approach.


December 2014

Jeff Biernaskie and Dermal Stem Cells

Earlier this month, a team led by Dr. Jeff Biernaskie (from the University of Calgary in Canada) got their hair related research findings published in the journal Developmental Cell.  This research identifies the existence of hair follicle dermal (in the skin) stem cells in adults. These can potentially be targeted to stimulate new hair growth in areas where there has been hair loss.

More detailed information can be read via the Calgary Herald.

Although this was interesting research that was widely covered in the media, I was not too impressed. Besides the fact that this was yet again research only done in mice, it seems like Dr. Biernaskie himself is a professor in the veterinary department! Moreover, most of the articles that I read on this development suggested that these findings could only lead to a potential cure in 10 years at best.

With the seemingly exponential growth in science and technology in recent years, 10-year time frames are usually a bit underwhelming. Nevertheless, after writing my prior post on hair loss research at the University of Bradford, now seemed like a good time to praise a Canadian university. It should be noted that other researchers from Kyoto University in Japan; University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in the US; and Université de Strasbourg in France; were also involved in this research.

More interesting, two days ago Replicel published an article covering this study. They think that these findings validate Replicel’s RHC-01 product, which utilizes dermal sheath cup cells.

If Shiseido Decides to Do So

Update: March 27, 2020

Shiseido’s latest trial results are finally getting global publicity. Yesterday, lead researcher Dr. Ryoji Tsuboi was interviewed by the Asahi Shimbun. The title of the article clearly states that this technology entails transplantation of ones own cells. Not surprisingly, The Daily Mail has even more details.

Shiseido’s method involves autologous transplantation of dermal sheath cup cells. I am very optimistic that Japan’s favorable regulations will lead to this technology reaching the market in the next several years.

Shiseido Hair Research from Dr. Tsuboi
Shiseido lead researcher Dr. Ryoji Tsuboi. Source: Asahi Shimbun.

Dr. Tsuboi:

“The result of our study was very encouraging, We were able to show that the study could help develop a new treatment for hair loss.”


Update: March 6, 2020

Update: Fuji Maru sent me the following Japanese press release from Shiseido. The company plans to conduct further clinical trials that will administer DSC cells in multiple areas of the scalp.

Autologous Cell-Based Therapy Success

Reader “John Doe” just discovered this new study from Shiseido. As always, I am assuming that Shiseido uses both Replicel’s technology as well as its own-in house technology. Lead author is Dr. Ryoji Tsuboi from Tokyo Medical University. Toho University Ohashi Medical Center was also involved in the trial.

The treatment entails autologous cell–based therapy using dermal sheath cup (DSC) cells, which surround the dermal papilla (DP). Cell manufacturing was conducted at the Shiseido Cell-Processing and Expansion Center (SPEC) and Incubation Center. Both male pattern hair loss and female pattern hair loss patients were treated. 50 males and 15 females, all between the ages of 33-64.

The positive: Total hair density and cumulative hair diameter at injection site significantly increased at 6-months and at 9-months. They seem to imply that this was true for all patients, but maybe someone can access the full study and let us know. Side effects were limited to none in all participating volunteers.

The negative (possibly): The “positive effect was temporary until 9 months”. This statement does not make linguistical sense, and is likely a translation issue. Are they actually trying to say that hair growth was temporary for all of the first 9 months after injection?

Update: Thanks to reader “Left4Bald” for sending me the whole study. They state that the best results were at 6- and 9-months post injection. 12 months had “reduced hair growth”, which is still unclear wording. Further data in the full study indicates that there was a very slight average decline in hair count from 9 to 12 months. Interestingly, older men and women saw best results per phototrichogram before and after images.

Also of significance, 3.0×105 DSC cells was the lowest dose tested. It still elicited a significant increase in total hair density and cumulative hair diameter compared with the placebo. Higher doses did not translate to superior hair growth. The authors suggest that this could be due to an overload of cell debris and immune reactions. In effect causing a poorer environment for the remaining viable DSC cells.

In any case, we should prepare for an eventuality where we need once-a-year DSC injections. Hopefully, Shiseido succeeds in rapidly commercializing this autologous hair growth treatment in regulation friendly Japan.

Shiseido Replicel Hair Growth Treatment
Shiseido’s hair growth treatment with dermal sheath cup cells. Source: https://www.tokyo-med.ac.jp/news/media/docs/20200306pressrelease.pdf

Update: November 26, 2019

Shiseido Japanese Patent Published

Someone named “Paul” (thanks!) just posted a link to Shiseido’s official Japanese patent, which was released in Japan in May 2019. Paul found this link on an investing forum, and he also posted a bunch of information about stock prices. I deleted the latter, as I do not want to encourage blog readers to buy or sell Shiseido or Replicel stock.

Ultimately, whether “Shiseido decides to do so OR not to do so” will decide everything. The patent indicates optimism about the technology. However, nothing is set in stone for sure. The English translation of the patent is extremely informative if you expand each section and wait for it to load. Or you can open the whole Japanese pdf too and use translation software.

The big question I have is what portion of the technology comes from Replicel (licensing), versus from Shiseido in-house?

The inventors are listed as:

  • Tsutomu Soma
  • Jiro Kishimoto
  • Sayaka Koide
  • Hitoshi Okochi
  • Masahiro Kiso

Update: November 26, 2019

Replicel Year-End 2019 Update

RepliCel released its 2019 year-end update today. It includes discussion about its partnership with Shiseido. Regarding Replicel’s cellular therapy (RCH-01) for androgenetic alopecia, the key points are that:

  • Shiseido’s clinical study in Japan is now complete.
  • Shiseido will soon announce on whether it will commercially launch the product in Japan or conduct further clinical testing.
  • Replicel is holding off on Shiseido’s final decision before pursuing any further Phase 2 trials. The former’s Phase 1 trials in Europe were successful.
  • The Replicel and Shiseido dispute is still unresolved.

It seems like Shiseido could still launch the product in Japan soon. No doubt aided by the country’s new faster regulations for marketing when it comes to cellular therapy.

Replicel’s proprietary injection device, RCI-02, is on schedule to get approval and be used in much of the developed world in 2020.

Replicel-Shiseido Partnership

March 23, 2019

I used to cover Replicel (Canada) and its Japanese cosmetics behemoth partner Shiseido at least a few times per year until last year. At some point, I got skeptical about the RCH-01 autologous cell therapy hair loss product being released any time in the near future.

Shiseido LogoBesides typical delays, Replicel and Shiseido had some unclear conflicts regarding their partnership.

However, Replicel published two important updates this month, the second of which is of most interest to us:

Per the first link above, the disagreement regarding the agreement between Shiseido and Replicel remains unresolved. However, it is not subject to any litigation or arbitration at this time.

The key money quote is from the second link:

“While the Company’s RCH-01 product for hair loss due to androgenic alopecia may be launched in Japan much earlier if Shiseido decides to do so, current planning anticipates the potential for all four products to be on the market in Japan by 2022.”

The implication seems to be that:

  1. Shiseido could release the product well before 2022. See my past post on the company’s new research facility in Kobe, Japan.
  2. Even if Shiseido does not release the product earlier, it will quite possibly get released in 2022 in Japan by Replicel.

See my past post on Japan’s new laws fast-tracking stem cell therapies and clinical trials.

Another key quote:

“Unlike anywhere else in the world, one well-designed cell therapy trial in Japan, approved by their regulatory authorities, has the potential to lead to product market launch.”

Replicel is clearly focusing on a “First-in-Japan” strategy due the country’s favorable regulatory environment. Shiseido has rights to the Asian market when it comes to RCH-01. However, it seems like Replicel can still release the product in Japan in 2022 if Shiseido does not do so?

Hard to make this conclusion for certain without knowing much more about the two companies’ legal contract. In any case, this is a great development.

Further references:

— A discussion of Replicel’s technology in two videos.

— Shseido and Adenosine for hair loss.