Category Archives: Stem Cells

New Hair Root Stem Cell Treatment from South Korea

Hair Root Stem Cells
New hair root stem cell treatment for Gemma Hair Transplant Center (South Korea). Screenshot from the clinic video at the bottom of this post.

Last month, someone sent me an interesting link to a new type of stem cell based non-surgical hair growth procedure in South Korea. It is offerred by Park Kyung-won, director of the Gemma Hair Transplant Center.

It seems like the original English version of the article is no longer available. I initially used that one to write my post. Note that Gemma hair also has a blog on Naver.

Mr. Park has been offerring hair transplants and conducting hair loss research for almost two decades. Almost 15,000 hair transplant procedures have been perofmed at this clinic as of 2024.

South Korea is a world leader when it comes to cosmetic procedures and new experimental regenerative medicine treatments. In the world of exosomes, a South Korean company named ExoCoBio is making big waves in Europe. And of course we have all become familiar with CosmeRNA, the world’s first RNA-based cosmetic hair loss treatment. The number of South Korean companies involved in creating new hair loss products and treatments is particularly impressive.

New Hair Stem Cell Transplantation Process

This new stem cell based process was validated for efficacy at Hanyang University Medical School (South Korea) in 2023. Moreover, in October 2023, Director Park filed a patent application for “a method for promoting transplantation and growth after transplantation using hair stem cells.”

According to Park Kyung-won (in the original English version of the article):

“The larynx has relatively more hair than other areas and is immune to the ‘DHT hormone’ that attacks hair follicles,” he said. “We have succeeded in commercializing non-surgical treatment in Korea that injects hair root stem cells collected from the larynx into the hair loss area for the first time.”

He goes on to say that after just one stem cell transplant procedure, it is possible to activate resting hair follicles and make existing hair thicker.

The description of this process is a bit confusing due to the use of the word larynx, which is the internal voice box area near the middle of your neck. Does this really just mean the beard or body hair near your throat region?

Considering that this is in South Korea, I doubt that too many residents have dense beards running all the way down to the middle of their necks.

Update: In the Korean version of the article, they use the phrase “occipital area” area, and this makes more sense.

“The occipital area has relatively more hair than other areas and has immunity to the ‘DHT hormone’ that attacks hair follicles.”

Also confusing is that later on in the (original) article, it talks about extraction from the occipital region of the scalp. And the use of a 5cc activated blood solution, which they refer to as platelet-rich-plasma (PRP). Perhaps some of these issues are due to Korean to English translation of the interview?

Another vague statement:

“Stem cells proliferate on their own, so you only need to collect 100 to 200 hairs to plant 3000 hairs.”

Follicle Stem Cell Extraction Kits

Below is a new Korean video from Gemma Hair Tansplant Center. The last one-third of it has an Indian doctor named Dr. Surtakant who is from Cryobank Research Centre (India) talking in English. He discusses the increasing popularity of non-surgical follicle stem cell hair transplants in India. He specifically mentions these new stem cell extraction kits and their difference from PRP.

In 2023, Dr. Park partnered with Cryo Center (India) to increase the purity of stem cells. Since then, he has purchased ownership of the “stem cell extraction kit” developed by Cryo Center. Only high-purity stem cells remain after processing. I assume this Cryo Center is the same as the Cryobank Research Centre shown in the below YouTube video.

The efficacy of the kit was verified at Hanyang University Medical School (South Korea). According to Kang Joo-seop, a professor of pharmacology at Hanyang University:

“Tissue staining tests such as ‘H&E’ and ‘IHC’ were conducted on stem cell fluids extracted by kits, and a large amount of Sox-10 (embedded stem cell-specific expression antibodies) were found.”

He also states that the PRP type solution from these kits contains far greater amounts of stem cells than what was seen in past autologous hair stem cell therapy attempts.

As of February 2024, Director Park’s injection of hair stem cells has been administered in about 40 patients.


Escaping Hair Follicle Stem Cells

Dr. Rui Yi and his team from Northwestern University’s YiLab just published a groundbreaking new paper explaining the reason for aging related hair loss. The current findings were shown in various mammals.

Escaped hair stem cells.
Escaped stem cells in aging hair follicles. Source: Nature Aging (2021). Zhang, C., Wang, D., Wang, J. et al.

The Great Stem Cell Escape

The findings in this paper suggest that hair loss is not caused by stem cell death, depletion and exhaustion as has long been postulated. Rather, the stem cells escape from the structures that house them (i.e., the hair follicle bulge). The New York Times has an in-depth summary of these very interesting findings. Also see another take from Futurism.

In order to flee, the cells change their shapes from round to amoeba-like structures. Then they squeeze out of tiny holes in the follicle. Finally, they recover their normal shapes and dart away!

Of note, the researchers (led by Dr. Yi and his PhD student Chi Zhang) discovered two genes (Foxc1 and Nfatc1) that were less active in older aging hair follicle cells. The role of these two genes is to to “imprison” stem cells in the bulge. Note that Foxc1 stands for Forkhead Box C1. Nfatc1 stands for Nuclear Factor of Activated T Cells 1.

This study found a “hitherto unknown activity” of epithelial cells escaping from their niche during the aging process. This escape subsequently leads to stem cell degradation.

“If I did not see it for myself I would not have believed it. It’s almost crazy in my mind.” — Dr. Yi.

Foxc1 and Hair Loss

Note that I have covered Foxc1 in two past posts. The first (“COL17A1 damage and hair turning into skin“) covered a 2016 study whose co-author was also Dr. Rui Yi. Key quote:

“In self-renewing stem cells (SCs), Foxc1 activates Nfatc1 and bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) signaling.”

The second post covered a 2016 article from Dr. Elaine Fuchs. In it, she found that Foxc1 plays a critical role in hair follicle and hair color (melanocyte cell) stem cell regenerative capabilities.

Stem cells residing in hair follicles are held in an inactive state for long periods of time. The new findings showed that these quiescent periods are essential for maintaining the stem cells’ rejuvenating potential.

On a somewhat related note, Dr. Yi and his team also published a new paper in September 2021 in relation to miRNA and hair loss. I have added it in that related post.