Category Archives: RIKEN

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.

Related Links

So its Shiseido/Replicel versus RIKEN/Tsuji in Kobe

Update: And in other important news from Japan from this week:

— Dr. Tsuji published a new paper several days ago.

— Pokemon Go was finally launched in Japan, its spiritual homeland.


Without any doubt, there has never been a better year than this one in the hair loss research world. The last four months have been especially fruitful, and I am not even considering a number of newer entrants in the field (just because most seem suspicious or are likely to produce best case results that will be akin to those from Rogaine). Key noteworthy recent developments:

  • First, in April, Follica (which had been left for dead by many due to its numerous conflicting signals since inception in 2006) surprised us and is clearly alive and aims to release its product in 2018 in a best case scenario. The company’s majority owner PureTech stated in a summary document that “skin disruption alone was safe and generates new follicles as well as new hair“.
  • Thereafter, in June, Aclaris Therapeutics’ CEO Mr. Neal Walker clearly stated at three difference investor presentation that “topical covalently bound highly selective JAK3 inhibitors” work in treating androgenetic alopecia and not just in treating alopecia areata. Alcaris will be conducting trials on this use of JAK inhibitors in 2017.
  • Also in June, Histogen made a surprising announcement that it would start treating patients in Mexico in 2018. Like Follica, many people had left Histogen for dead due to the fact that the company has been involved in hair loss research for a similarly lengthy period of time with mixed signals in terms of efficacy, clinical trial and product release dates.
  • Then, in July came perhaps the most exciting news ever in the hair loss cure research world. RIKEN/Dr. Takashi Tsuji, Kyocera and Organ Technologies have formed a partnership that aims to commercially release a product in 2020 that will essentially represent a cure for hair loss. 2020 is clearly a best case scenario assuming no major hiccups along the way. Mr. Tsuji is a world renowned and extremely well respected and modest scientist; RIKEN has access to Japanese government funds and to numerous leading scientists in the world of regenerative medicine; Kyocera is a private sector multinational behemoth with pre-existing hardware side technology and expertise that will likely be of much use to Dr. Tsuji.
  • And finally, today the Shiseido/Replicel team finally announced the commencement of delayed clinical trials in Japan (see bottom part of this post).

RIKEN and Dr. Tsuji are conducting their research at the Kobe Biomedical Innovation Cluster (KBIC) in Japan in RIKEN’s Integrated Innovation Building.

File:RIKEN Integrated Innovation Building.JPG

Shiseido/Replicel Joins Kyocera/RIKEN/ Tsuji at the KBIC

Today, in yet one more major positive development this year, it was announced that the Shiseido/Replicel team has finally started its delayed 60-person (men and women included) Japanese clinical trials for its autologous cell therapy based RCH-01 product.

Riken Kobe Business CenterWhile the study will be conducted at two hospitals in Tokyo, the injected product(s) will be manufactured by Shiseido at their SPEC (Cell-Processing and Expansion Center) in KBIC. I discussed this facility in a post in 2014. It is located in the Business Support Center for Biomedical Research Activities (BMA) building in KBIC.

So Shiseido and RIKEN’s respective research and development work will be conducted at buildings within a mile of each other!! 

I arrived at this conclusion after analyzing this map (both buildings are on the right side of the railroad).

While doing research on KBIC, I found that it is located on Port Island in the city of Kobe, and Port Island is an artificially constructed island. Would be quite something if humans end up creating new replacement hair follicles on a man-made island.