Category Archives: RIKEN

RIKEN Fundraising for Regenerative Medicine

RIKEN is a Japanese government funded research institute, with one of their many areas of focus being hair loss cure research. They get very little in the way of public donations. This should change in FY 2021 due to their widely publicized request (which I discuss later in this post).

RIKEN Updates

Update: October 12, 2021

Two interesting new developments this week in relation to RIKEN and hair made me update this post.

  • First, they published some interesting new findings in relation to untangling the process of hair follicle development. Their scientists created a dynamic four-dimensional atlas that explains the origins and development of adult hair follicle stem cells. They call this a telescopic model and it analyzes the cellular dynamics and gene expression changes involved in hair follicle development. The actual study was published in “Nature” in June 2021 and is titled: “Tracing the origin of hair follicle stem cells.” Per lead researchers Hironobu Fujiwara and Ritsuko Morita:

“The findings could help drug developers to design new therapeutics to combat baldness and other types of hair loss.”

  • Of more interest to this blog’s readers, a new lengthy summary of RIKEN and Dr. Takashi Tsuji’s work was just published in an online Chinese publication. There seems to be some kind of collaboration between RIKEN and ISEI Health in China’s regenerative medicine sector. Thanks to “Jan” for first posting the link. Key quotes from Dr. Tsuji below, including an implication that trials already started:

“The initial hair follicle regeneration clinical trial invested about 500 million yen. If the results are confirmed, I want to spend an additional 1 billion to 1.5 billion yen to gradually increase the number of trials.

“Cost is about 50 million yen until the first 100 people. If it becomes 10,000, it will be reduced to 25 million yen, and after that, it will be reduced to 15 million yen. The more users there are, the more likely the cost is. reduce.”

February 11, 2021

I have never written a fundraising related post on this blog before. I have encouraged readers to donate small amounts in order to send people to major hair loss conferences twice. However, those fundraising goals amounted to just several thousand USD.

Several days ago, we learnt that Dr. Takashi Tsuji and his hair loss cure project was still progressing. Although he split from commercial partner Organ Technologies in 2020, his RIKEN (Rikagaku Kenkyūjo) team’s research continues to thrive. Next stop is clinical hair regeneration.

RIKEN Fundraising

However, the hair loss and teeth regeneration work from RIKEN now needs private funding.

“The team is seeking 500 million yen ($4.8 million) in donations from companies and individuals. The money will be used not only for clinical testing on the safety of the hair transplant technology, but also for other trials, such as regenerating teeth.”

  • In FY 2018, RIKEN received only 37 donations for a total of approximately 8 million yen. Equivalent to $76,000 at current exchange rates.
  • In FY 2019, RIKEN received 380 donations for a total of 25 million yen. Equivalent to just $240,000 at current exchange rates.

I wrote to the RIKEN team and suggested their using GoFundMe or contacting Allergan for investment. The latter has invested in 5 hair loss companies in recent years. In 2019, Allergan gave $25 million to Exicure, along with potential milestone payments of $265 million. RIKEN only needs $4.8 million.

Surprisingly, RIKEN replied to me right away. They were interested in my introducing them to the Allergan team, so I will need to figure that one out! More importantly, they said that they have created the below two links for those who want to donate:

Update: I have asked them to add a Paypal option. Hope they do so, as I prefer that option over paying by credit card. Someone on Twitter has also asked them to be more transparent by posting total funds raised to date information.

I later also asked RIKEN about approaching locally based Aderans. Their response was as follows:

“Aderans is a partner of hair diagnostic project but not hair follicle regeneration. I would like to meet a new partner of the hair regeneration for clinical application in human.”

Caveat

If you do donate to this cause, please note that the chances of any particular hair loss cure coming to realization are always abysmal. We have been disappointed over and over again for decades. I also doubt that private donations will get them more than $1 million, although I hope I am wrong.

I would suggest that the only reason to donate would be to support the overall goals of RIKEN when it comes to regenerative medicine. The implications of this work go across all of human biology. Not just hair and teeth.

Japan’s declining and aging population means that the country leads the world in anti-aging research. So these funds could indirectly benefit all of humanity. Clinical trials in Japan also proceed faster than anywhere else in the developed world. Especially when it comes to autologous regenerative medicine.

Of related interest, 10 of the 50 oldest living people in the world as of today are Japanese. That list is based on proven birth records. At the same time, Japan’s population has declined for 9 straight years, and a likely 10 straight years when new data is released.

RIKEN Tweets
RIKEN Tweets from February 11, 2021. Their hair multiplication works in human cells too.

Organ Technologies and RIKEN Update

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.

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