Hello everyone and welcome to a timely edition of Weekly Thoughts,
The news involving Kyocera and Dr. Tsuji in this Weekly Thoughts is perhaps the best development I’ve heard of this year since the original buzz of the Brotzu lotion hit the internet a few months back. This edition also features a new intriguing company that is developing a device to be worn on a person’s head to emit bioelectric signals to hair follicles. Sounds weird? Perhaps, but it is based on legitimate research. Check it out.
Kyocera confirms Tsuji’s Research
It was just about 3 months ago that we learned Dr. Takashi Tsuji of the RIKEN Institute of Japan was finally getting some major support from a Japanese pharmaceutical company to pursue his hair regeneration research. Apparently, things are going well for Dr. Tsuji in the lab. This past week the major electronics company Kyocera announced that they will be establishing a joint venture with RIKEN and the regenerative medicine company Organ Technologies to bring Dr. Tsuji’s hair regeneration treatment to market. In the deal Kyocera will be developing the cell processing devices and RIKEN and Organ Technologies will be responsible for the stem cell culturing and manipulation, the production process, and implementation of the preclinical trials.
Overall, the treatment works like this: A small number of hair follicles are extracted from a person’s donor scalp area, specific stem cells from the hair follicles will be isolated, cultured, and augmented, this process produces a hair follicle “germ”, when the hair follicle germs are ready they are then delivered to a facility where they can be transplanted back into the person’s scalp.
It’s not very different from Replicel, although the culturing process sounds a bit more advanced. I also imagine that these hair follicle germs are going to be transplanted back into a person’s scalp in a much more precise manner than just 25 spaced out injections. I do wonder if it might even be the case that the hair germs are implanted one at a time. Time will tell that answer.
The kicker: Kyocera has announced that they aim for the treatment to be on the market in 2020. That’s not a promise, but it’s a much better timeline than I would have guessed.
Here is an image from Kyocera’s press release about the venture.
HairCell: A little Stimulation, anyone?
Did you ever sit there and imagine putting some kind of high-tech device on your head that would stimulate your hair follicles to grow? It’s a funny thought, but I’m pretty sure the idea has crossed my mind at one point or another. Well, here comes the real life counterpart.
A Leonhardt Ventures Co startup, HairCell, aims to create hair growth from a much different approach than the rest of the current industry. The HairCell technology platform includes a bioelectric stimulator device to be worn on the head which is said to control expressions of specific proteins to be released in sequences, and this stimulator is also coupled with a device containing low-depth penetration electro-acupuncture needles. These needles release stem cells and growth factors into the scalp. Fancy stuff. Here’s what the stimulator cap looks like:
I mean, the idea of this technology sounds fascinating, but, upon hearing about it initially I was not sure what to make of it. I began browsing the Leonhardt Ventures site and found myself reading the webpage dedicated to another biotech startup by Leonhardt called AortaCell. Voila. That webpage mentions that “AortaCell is based on adaptations and improvements of technology originally explained by Dr. Robert O. Becker in his landmark 1985 publication The Body Electric.” Thumbs up from me. For those unfamiliar with Dr. Becker’s work, he was truly a visionary in the field of electromedicine. I have read his book The Body Electric, and I highly recommend it to those who have an interest in science/medicine. To give you all an idea of what Dr. Becker’s work entailed I will share a little bit of what I remember from his book. A piece of Dr. Becker’s research that I found particularly interesting was his work studying salamanders and their ability to regenerate limbs. This is a curious phenomenon because virtually all other species do not. Dr. Becker found that it was the electrical signal from the salamander’s body (which was a different signal in salamanders compared to other species) to the tissue at the end of a wound which would enable the tissue to regenerate. Interesting, huh?
But, back to HairCell and Leonhardt Ventures. Clinical trials, anyone? There will be a Phase I clinical trial for the HairCell technology involving about 30 people and is anticipated to begin in August 2016. Further details about the study are found here. I was pleased to see that the trial would begin so soon. I bet by now you are wondering what kind of efficacy this treatment holds for hair growth. Well, the clinical trial is recruiting for Norwoods 4,5,6, and 7 which is a good sign, if anything. HairCell also has made some lofty statements about their goals for this technology. Here’s a quote to leave you with from their patent application: “Our device controls release of SDF-1 a stem cell homing factor as well as IGF-1, HGF, EGF, Follistatin, Tropoelastin, eNOS and VEGF as well as micro infusion delivery of a 15 component hair regeneration cocktail which includes nutrient hydrogel, thus providing all the supporting elements to grow a full head of hair.”
Hmm, hmm, and hmm.
For more information on the patent application for HairCell and other company info check their website. The founder of this enterprise is Howard Leonhardt who is also the founder of a plethora of startups aimed at cardio health. Howard also serves as board advisor at USC’s Center for Technology and Innovation in Pedicatrics and at UCLA for Bioengineering and Medical Device Engineering.
Until next time, be well.