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Kyocera Hair Multiplication project with Riken and Organ Technologies


July 13, 2016 4:30 am JST
Kyocera to join hair regeneration research project

Kyocera is looking to get into the business of growing hair follicles for transplants.

KYOTO – Kyocera is teaming with the Riken research institute and bioventure Organ Technologies to conduct research on the use of regenerative medicine for treating hair loss.

The electronics and ceramics company said Tuesday that it will work with the partners to develop prototype equipment by March 2018. The trio aims to begin human clinical studies by 2020.

The treatment involves cutting off a small section of scalp and extracting two kinds of stem cells from hair follicles. The extracted cells are processed and propagated to increase their number by 100- to 1,000-fold, making it possible to transplant a large number of hair follicles by cutting off only a small section of the scalp.

Hair transplants are a common treatment for baldness already, but the conventional method requires the excision of relatively large sections of scalp to obtain enough healthy hair follicles for transplant.

The new treatment uses the patient’s own cells, so the procedure would be no more dangerous than the commercial methods already established for use of regenerated skin and cartilage tissue.

If the research proceeds as planned, Kyoto-based Kyocera hopes to launch a business in 2020 acting as a contract manufacturer for medical institutions. Kyocera’s planned business model is to receive scalp tissue from the clinic, process it over the course of around three weeks, and then return the propagated hair follicles back to the clinic.

The business will require high-precision technologies that can process and multiply the cultured cells, and that is where Kyocera’s expertise will come in handy. The Japanese company has technologies for the processing of precision parts, has experience in the medical field with artificial joints, and is familiar with the kind of precision injection technologies used in inkjet printing.

It is estimated that a total of more than 18 million men and women suffer from alopecia in Japan alone. Technologies developed for regenerative hair treatment likely will pave the way for regenerative organ transplant treatments.


JB, your thoughts.


Kyocera is a copier and printer company. Maybe the thing about 3D printing ain’t too far off after all? :stuck_out_tongue:


F… It I think I will just do the micro pigmentation. I was hoping something comes out soon but nothing it’s just the talk. Since 2006 it has been 10 years I hear the cure is 5 years away. I see pictures of guys with micro pigmentation that look good. But also some pictures might be also Photoshopped. So my question to you Roger is micro pigmentation safe? Does it damage the tissue? Does it damage the existing hairs? I don’t want to damage my existing hairs and scalp tissue in case a cure comes out. Your input is appreciated


Good questions about micro-pigmentation. I’m skeptical of any kind of tattoos in general, because they can cause infections or absorption of the ink (or toxic chemicals in different types of ink). I don’t know if micro-pigmentation itself can damage hair follicles… I doubt it could cause many problems but I think it has to be done by someone very skilled to avoid damaging the existing follicles (unless you just don’t care about possibly reviving them at a later time).


This is the message I got from dr Cole’s office regarding pigmentation.
"Hi Monir, no it will not cause any damage or scarring. It is natural ink and is only put into the upper dermis of the skin.

Thank you."


I think it’s a good marriage between two companies. Organ Technologies will handle the stem cell science, and Kyocera will mechanize the process. Kyocera has enough funds to make a legitimate run, which makes this a very interesting development

On another note, Shiseido has been cleared for human testing and is targeting a treatment as early as 2018 for the cost of $1000 per session. I suspect 2020 is more realistic for when you and I could get the treatment. The results will vary greatly. But since the treatment will be affordable to many, lots of data will be provided to Replicel for further refinement of the process.

Because of the regulatory climate in Japan, hair multiplication will most likely originate there. I expect mixed results initially. But getting a treatment on the market will result in a bit of a gold rush to refine the treatment into a legitimate cure. Hair multiplication could very well be birthed in this manner, which would push a huge amount of money and research effort into the field as the process gets refined into a cure-all over the next ten years.

In the meantime, some would get there hair back through multiple treatments, some would see modest improvement, and some would continue to wait for further refinement of the process.

We are in the “second stage” of the maturity of hair multiplication science. It’s certainly possible this “second stage” investment could not pan out and send us back to the drawing board waiting for the evolution of the “third stage.”

However, Hair multiplication science has reached a stage of maturity where companies will continue to invest to figure it out, as the potential for getting it right is in the $billions. Personally, I feel pretty good about the second stage being able to at least put a treatment out there. I mean, people pay for laser combs and PHP.

It doesn’t take a whole lot to market an inconsistent and iffy treatment. It just needs to work a little bit on some people. HM already achieves this goal and is fully marketable in its present form. The fact that some people are good responders only adds to the marketability of the product. The bonus is, once people begin to pay for it, we will most likely see rapid improvement in the efficacy of the product.

A major hurdle that prevented this scenario from playing out in the past was the potential cost of the treatment. At $5000 per session, an inconsistent treatment doesn’t pencil out. But at $1000 per treatment, it’s not such a big deal for people to test their response rate and move forward accordingly.


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:

  1. stem (epithelial) cell component

  2. DP cell component

  3. 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?


Maybe have a small test patch done in some place on your body where it’s less noticeable, to see if there are any adverse reactions. I wouldn’t think so. Some people have mentioned that micro-pigmentation tends to fade after a while, though.


didn’t prior versions of this also have cycling and/or passage issues? any info on whether these issues have been overcome?


I don’t recall any prior versions of this. Intercytex and Aderans were not prior versions of this because they didn’t use stem cells and DP cells together, and if they used an extra-cellular matrix, as Aderans supposedly tried close to the end of its failed trials, it was only to hold the DP cells together, and had nothing to do with maintaining the relative positioning of the DP and stem cells.

It has now become clear that to reliably generate a working proto-follicle, at the very least you must have both types of cells, and they have to have a certain position relative to each other in the skin. I don’t think this particular approach, incorporating all these requirements at once, has ever been tried before.


I’ve done SMP on my scar a year ago or so. This would be my entire scalp. Yes you’ve to go every year for a touch up. But down the road if there’s a technology or a cure then you’ve to use laser to remove the tattooe before you can do any procedure.


–I did write “prior versions”, but was referring to prior versions of hair multiplication in general, based on the way you defined it, including procedures that used the misnomer, “hair cloning”.

Also, yes–I was referring to Aderans and ICX, but also prior versions of Replicel and any other similar efforts. I seem to recall there was an issue with viable follicles coming from repeated “passages”.


Right. The issue had to do with culturing DP cells. Each cell generation is called a “passage” and with DP cells the problem is, the more passages you put them through (to multiply their numbers again and again) the weaker each successive passage of cells becomes when it comes to inducing new hairs to grow, or even helping to enlarge miniaturized follicles. So the more cells you try to get, the weaker they are… Leading to cells multiplied many times that have almost no inductive ability. Various researchers like Christiano and Jahoda tried to find novel ways to get around this problem, like using new and different culture techniques. They reported they had some success with that, but it looks like it was very limited.

Sanford-Burnham and other researchers (Shiseido?) more recently tried something completely different – not using the body’s native DP cells at all, but instead making new DP cells from stem cells. If new DP like cells could be made from stem cells in large numbers, this would circumvent the “passage” problem because the new DP like cells would be “fresh”, like first generation, instead of like 10th generation or whatever. So they would have full hair-inductive powers.

The problem with that might be that you don’t ONLY need DP cells, you also need “epithelial” cells at the top of the follicle to make a real, viable follicle that could theoretically cycle and function just like a natural one. So maybe Sanford-Burnham was concentrating on only one part of the problem. A functioning hair follicle is more than just a ball of DP cells.

That’s where Organ Technologies and Kyocera come in – they propose to actually build new follicle “seeds” (they call it a “primordium”) which would have both the stem/epithelial cells, and the DP cells, embedded into a gel matrix to maintain their relative positions in the scalp. They claim this has already worked in mice, but I don’t know how well, that’s the question. And yes, I know these researchers say EVERYTHING works in mice. Remember Dr. Cotsarelis and PGD2 inhibition just a few years ago?


This little bit is the only part of the article that suggests they aim to create whole new follicles.

I wouldn’t be surprised if it was just a misunderstanding by the article writer. This operation might actually be taking another crack at creating viable DP cells for reviving the existing follicles.


Have you looked at any of the other articles available that explain it further?


See on that link, which is from the Kyocera website, that they are making “regenerated hair follicle germs”. They call this a “follicle primordium”. The “Background” paragraph says:

“Because no existing treatment — not even surgical autografting — can increase the number of hair follicles, any viable method of regenerating hair follicles has great potential to succeed where other methods fail.”

The first diagram compares their procedure with FUT which “Cannot increase the number of follicles”. It says their procedure “Can increase the number of follicles”. Increasing the number of follicles is making new follicles.

This procedure entails taking cells from the scalp (two types – epithelial cells from the Bulge region and DP cells from the papilla), cultivating them in the lab, then putting groups of the cells together (10,000 epithelial + 3,000 papilla cells), and implanting that into the scalp as a “follicle primordium.”

This is in vitro (lab) regeneration of a hair follicle germ, or proto-follicle (“primordium”), so if it works, it will give you new follicles. This one can’t be a misunderstanding by the writer because it’s on the Kyocera website itself.