Have to agree with you on all that, James – particularly the part about Japan being the likely location where the real hair multiplication will be developed first. I’m defining “hair multiplication” as what I said before – “hair at will” or “hair on demand”… meaning where a doctor can say, “I’m going to put 6,000 new follicles on your head, right here” and points to the area, then the stem cells are cultured in a lab and new follicles (or follicle precursors) are implanted into your scalp, so you are 6,000 new follicles better than when you started. No waiting around for a chemical or drug to trigger new hair growth – as we’ve seen, chemicals and drugs EITHER don’t work well, OR work well but have unacceptable side effects, and there is no middle ground – nor, I believe, will there ever be.
The Organ Technologies + Kyocera development is particularly interesting because if you do a deeper dive into the information they’ve posted at various places on the web, they are basically going to be building “follicle primordiums” – a proto-follicle made of a combination of epithelial (stem component) cells on the top, and dermal papilla cells on the bottom. These will be placed into some sort of colloidal gel, whereby they retain their relative positioning… which is perhaps the ONE ingredient that has been left out of all the research procedures up to this point. Researchers were either trying to multiply and inject ONLY dermal papilla cells (or something like DP cells, e.g. DSC cells), or they focused on stem cells only – when in reality, you need:
stem (epithelial) cell component
DP cell component
These 2 components have to be inserted together, and they MUST be physically in the proper orientation to one another, with the epithelial component distal, and the DP cell component proximal.
Only by combining all three of the above (at minimum) will you actually have a chance of reliably generating NEW working follicles in the skin. Also, they are saying the newly-grown follicles cycle in mice, AND hook up with surrounding blood vessels, sweat glands, etc., AND also can be induced to grow hair in the desired color by use of pigment cells (don’t know how they’ll manage that last one, but that is what they’re saying.)
My caveat on all this is that before we get too excited, remember that the human hair follicle is an EXCEEDINGLY COMPLEX MINI-ORGAN. Relative to its size, it’s more histologically and physiologically complex than some major organs like the heart, the liver, etc. As mentioned in some of the Kyocera write-ups, it’s the only organ in the body that regularly undergoes regeneration… (I would clarify that by saying the genital organs – testicles and ovaries – do undergo regular “cycles” of generation of germ cells, and the cells of the gastro-intestinal tract lining also regenerate themselves… but the hair follicles are perhaps the only organ that regularly shrink down to practically nothing, then regrow themselves).
With that said, who knows if what the Organ Technologies/Kyocera group is doing is actually enough to create a new working follicle? I mentioned above those 3 things are necessary, but are they sufficient? Or are there other things that must be added to those “primordiums” to make them really viable?