Category Archives: Takashi Tsuji

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

Hair Loss World News Updates

Lots of new developments in the world of hair and biology during the past month.

Hair loss news first:

— The most important news is courtesy of HLT, which several days ago interviewed people from the Dr. Tsuji/RIKEN/Organ Technologies team (but not Dr. Tsuji himself). Interview publication has been delayed due to Japan’s “Respect for the Aged Day“, but according to the HLT admin, he has been given permission to divulge the following regarding the Tsuji team’s work:

“Human trials to begin 2018. Commercial availability still on track for 2020.”

While not surprising to hear after the Kyocera partnership news in July of this year, it will hopefully put many people’s minds at ease.

— Thanks to who else but JAK superfan “nasa_rs” for letting us know that Aclaris Therapeutics updated its pipeline page and finally added its topical JAK inhibitor product (ATI-500003) for men with androgenetic alopecia (AGA). Interestingly, all four of its JAK products are now shown to be 80 percent or so through the pre-clinical phase and are on the verge of entering Phase 1 trials.

According to the pdf from the company’s September 14th webcast, proof-of-concept (POC = Phase 1 and Phase IIA) trials for the company’s alopecia areata (AA) drugs will commence in the first and second quarter of 2017. Considering that JAK inhibitors Ruxolitinib and Tofacitinib have already been FDA approved and in use for around 5-6 years, the big question is whether this will allow faster progression of Phase 1 clinical trials for Aclaris’ various JAK products? According to wikipedia, there are currently seven other JAK inhibitors in clinical trials.

— Long-time perpetual disappointment Follica, which had earlier announced initiation of a registration study in the second half of 2016 has delayed plans till the first half of 2017. A recently announced best-case product release scenario of 2018 by Follica now sounds just as unlikely as hyper-prolific commentator “mjones” ever meeting with his hero and Follica founder Dr. George Cotsarelis.

— In my June “brief items of interest” blog post, I mentioned that Allergan had commenced phase 2A clinical trials for Setipiprant to treat androgenetic alopecia. The company updated its clinical trial page again in August and many of their centers in the US are currently recruiting volunteers. It seems like Skincareresearch will even pay you up to $650 for participating.

Allergan also updated its Bimatoprost clinical trial page in August. Study is expected to be completed very soon in October 2016.

Follicum updated its website regarding the second part of their clinical phase I/IIa study for their FOL-005 hair loss product. I like the fact that they are undertaking some of this work at the reputable Charité-Universitätsmedizin Berlin in Germany. Follicum also sent out an e-mail to many people (one of whom was myself) and here is the gist of it:

“The study is divided in two parts, a single ascending dose part and a multiple dose part. Multiple dosing has begun on healthy volunteers. The study has now finalized recruiting volunteers and is fully recruited, it is being carried out in Germany at: Klinik für Dermatologie, Venerologie und Allergologie, Charité-Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Germany. As this is a regulated clinical trial results have to be published once the trial is completed and all the results have been analysed, which is estimated to be in January 2017.”

A conference on the Wnt signaling pathway ran from 14th-17th September in the Czech Republic. Interestingly, Samumed was one of the main sponsors. Of even more importance, it seems like Samumed made an extremely interesting and well received presentation at the 13th Medical Innovation Summit in London on September 17th 2016. Why do I say that without seeing the actual presentation? Because of numerous Tweets praising it on Twitter.

— One of the commentators on this forum named “skin” made some interesting comments in this dermarolling and Minoxidil post of mine that are worth reading. Especially if you are considering trying out dermarolling.

Lengthy article on hair loss, including some thoughts from Dr. Claire Higgins.

Scalp micropigmentation video on Quartz.

Troy Hurtubise wants to defeat hair loss. This is about as far fetched as it will ever get in our already diverse hair loss cure world.

Donald Trump lets Jimmy Fallon mess up his hair.

And now on to medical items of interest:

— Burned firefighter Pat Hardison continues to thrive one year after his face transplant. Pretty amazing progression.

— I have covered Zion Harvey 3 times on this blog now. His 1-year post double hand transplant update video is inspiring. Note that he has also had a kidney transplant and has prosthetic legs too:

— MIT scientist claims that his Elysium Basis pill is the one when it comes to the fountain of youth. More relevant to us (and discouraging) is the below quote:

“Guarente has been taking Basis for two years, but it’s a good bet that he is not among those who have observed hair growth as one of the pill’s effects.” 

— World’s formerly fattest man who lost 658 pound after gastric bypass surgery in 2010 will now get a second free surgery to remove excess skin.

— Embryos from skin cells instead of from eggs? Would mean real freedom for both men and women.

Infertile mice give birth due to 3D printed ovaries.

Stem cell therapy restores arm and hand movement for a paralyzed man.

New drug to treat Alzheimer’s could be very effective.

Lysyl oxidase inhibition could eliminate scar formation.

Cold plasma to heal non-healing wounds.

— CRISPR’d vegetables are now here.

— With Japanese electronics behemoth Kyocera partnering with Tsuji/RIKEN and their cell based work, it is perhaps not surprising that in the US General Electric now aims to build a $1 billion business “offering vital manufacturing tools for a coming wave of cell therapies.