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Can Stem Cell Therapy Cure Hair Loss? The Japanese Companies Bringing Treatments To Market

08/08/2016

Unprecedented leaps are being made in the stem cells labs of Japan to answer the centuries-old, billion-pound question of how to prevent and cure baldness.

From bizarre trends such as The Capsule Hotel, to world-beating innovations like their high-speed train system, Japan is known for being at the forefront of global innovation.

It’s always on the look out for new ways to position itself as a leader in the global market, and as the home to over 125 million people, its strive for innovation is also aimed at overcoming the diverse problems its population presents.

Transport, housing, and care for the growing elderly population remain high on the list of priorities for Japan. But progressing quietly in the background is also work to solve a somewhat more subtle issue: finding a cure for hair loss.

With over 18 million sufferers of hair loss, Japan certainly has the demand for an effective treatment. Yet the need spreads across the globe — the US has nearly three times as many sufferers as Japan, and the total number of people worldwide seeking treatment is ever increasing.

Indeed efforts to prevent and reverse hair loss stretch back to at least ancient Eygpt, and today several Japanese-led initiatives are finally closing in on a cure.

Getting To The Source Of Hair Loss: Our Stem Cells

“[our research] represents the first step towards development of a cell-based treatment for people with hair loss diseases.” —Authors of study by the Development, Aging, and Regeneration Program at Sanford-Burnham University

2016 is the year of many breakthroughs around the world in stem cell therapy and hair loss research.

Several months ago scientists at Sanford-Burham Medical Research Institute in California published results of how they used human pluripotent stem cells to generate new hair. Yet Japan appear a step ahead, recently announcing an initiative between their largest research organization RIKEN and companies Organ Technologies and Kyocera to make a hair loss treatment commercially available by 2020.

Another Japanese company Shiseido is working with RepliCel Life and Sciences in Canada to bring their own regenerative treatment to market as early as 2018 for a fee of 100,00 yen ($1,000).

As well as our skin, hair follicles continue to regenerate themselves long after birth thanks to the hard work of our stem cells. However, over time, our stem cells become damaged by pollution and the effects of ageing and begin to function less effectively.

The method used by researchers at RIKEN — known as follicular regenerative medicine — works by taking a small patch of skin with active hair follicles from the patient’s scalp. Stem cells are then isolated from the follicles are extracted and cultivated in the lab to increase their number. Using the primordium method, researchers at RIKEN have already successfully regenerated body parts including teeth, glands, and hair follicles in non-human models.

The race is on to bring an end to the search for a hair loss cure. And if Japan’s reputation as a leader in new innovations is anything to go by, it’ll be the first to make the solution available to the public.

Contact us today to find out how you can help safeguard the health of your children by storing stem cells from their baby teeth.