Cure for Baldness? Japanese Firms Work to End Hair Loss Problems by 2020
Japanese firms are working on developing new technologies and products to treat baldness.
RIKEN, Japan's largest research organization, has teamed up with electronics giant Kyocera and startup firm Organ Technologies Inc. to develop a hair-loss cure based on regenerative medicine.
The group is targeting to introduce the treatment commercially by 2020, The Japan Times reports.
About 18 million people in Japan suffer from hair loss, and more than three times that number are facing hair loss problems in the United States, most of whom are men.
The use of hair growth tonic and hair transplants are currently the most common methods of treatment.
However, the companies are looking to introduce technologies that can regenerate hair follicles as the preferred treatment for hair loss.
Researchers at RIKEN have already successfully demonstrated their capability to regenerate body parts, which include teeth, certain glands and hair follicles in mice, in a process called the primordium method.
In this method, the researchers will extract hair follicles and a small patch of skin from a patient's normal scalp. The stem cells in the follicles will then be extracted and cultivated to increase their number. The cells will then be processed and turned into follicles, which will be grafted into the patient's scalp as additional hair parts.
RIKEN and Organ Technologies will be in charge of establishing a method of cell proliferation, while Kyocera will take advantage of its microfabrication technology to mechanize cell cultivation and processing.
These companies are not the only ones that are pursuing the regeneration methodology. Japan cosmetics manufacturer Shiseido is working with RepliCel Life and Sciences in Canada to develop their own regenerative process and is targeting to introduce a treatment as early as 2018 for the price of $1,000 (100,000 yen), Forbes reports.
Also, scientists at Sanford-Burham Medical Research Institute in California have also announced earlier this year that they are working on a similar method.