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.