Biotech firm works on hair regeneration puzzle
By TAKAO IKEUCHI
HIGASHI-HIROSHIMA, Hiroshima Pref. (Kyodo) For the roughly 19 million Japanese with thinning hair, regenerative hair growth treatments may one day offer a solution through the growth and transplantation of hair root cells.
Human hair grows on a hairless mouse after it gets a transplant of human hair papilla and a rat’s epidermal cells.
Hair growth stimulants and hair restorers pop up frequently on store shelves but they aren’t effective for everyone.
PhoenixBio Co., a biotech firm based in the city of Higashi-Hiroshima is hoping its research in cell transplantation will help it tap into the 30 billion yen hair growth market.
The keys to the puzzle of hair regeneration are the hair papilla cells that form the connective tissue at the root of the hair, and stem cells that can become hair in response to stimuli from papilla in nearby skin.
The hair-stimulating substance in the papilla decreases with age, but researchers believe drugs can be used to stimulate hair growth.
But “at present, it is difficult to make sure of the dosage volume and its timing,” said Katsutoshi Yoshizato, a professor of developmental biology at Hiroshima University and a science and technology adviser to PhoenixBio.
Yoshizato and his fellow researchers are trying to develop a method to increase the number of hair papilla cells in animal experiments by culturing them outside the body and transplanting the cells onto the subject.
Human male hair papilla cells and cells taken from the surface of a rat’s skin that contain stem cells were transplanted onto the back of a hairless mouse. The experiment succeeded in growing hair on the mouse.