Category Archives: Takashi Tsuji

Brief Items of Interest, January 2018

Kerastem STYLE phase II clinical trial results update. Somewhat positive news of 17 percent increase in hair count at 6 months post-treatment. However, they only treated men in the early stages of hair loss (Norwood Scale I to III).

Regenerating one pigmented hair follicle
Single hair follicle regeneration in elderly man after wounding.

— Reader “omg” posted an interesting link to a study from Taiwan with a great title: “Never too old to regenerate (hair)”. The researchers report on an 80 year old man who regrew 1 brand new pigmented black hair after scalp wounding due to excision of a basal cell carcinoma. Yet more evidence in support of wounding, the main idea behind the work of well known company Follica. The new (or regenerated old) hair remained black at the 42-month time of follow-up. I do not think the claim that the researchers make that this is the world’s first case of wounding led hair growth in human skin is true.

— A potential improvement in current hair regeneration technology from Japan via self-sorted hair follicle germs (ssHFGs). I visualize an image of ant collaboration (which creeps me out a bit), each time I read that term. Dr. Junji Fukuda who I have covered on this blog before is a lead author. Update: A new article on this development came out on February 1, 2018.

— Dr. Takashi Tsuji was back in the news a couple of weeks ago. He is leading a Japanese team that includes RIKEN researchers that will develop technology to analyze human health ramifications of changes in people’s hair shape and quality. According to Dr. Tsuji, some research indicates that certain changes in human hair components are unique to people with diseases such as cancer and diabetes. Perhaps in future one can detect cancer earlier depending on hair analysis.

— Discussion about Donald Trumps’s hair never seems to get old when it comes to the major newspapers. I previously discussed Mr. Trump’s usage of Finasteride as well as a 10 page detailed article on his hair. Now come news that his daughter Ivanka has claimed that Donald Trump has had scalp reduction surgery.

Hair transplants could cure migraines in some per Turkish surgeon Dr. Safvet Ors. Actual study was published a few months ago despite major newspapers only covering the development more recently.

Topical Tofacitinib 2% ointment at least moderately effective in 3 of 10 patients suffering from alopecia areata. Dr. Brett King led the study. Hopefully, Aclaris will see better results for male pattern hair loss sufferers with their topical JAK product when it finally comes out. Fingers crossed.

So its Shiseido/Replicel versus Kyocera/RIKEN/ Tsuji at the Kobe Biomedical Innovation Cluster (KBIC)

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.  While 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 below Business Support Center for Biomedical Research Activities (BMA) building in KBIC.

Business Support Center for Biomedical Research Activities (BMA) Main Picture

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