TOKYO -- Meiji Seika Pharma will partner with the government-affiliated Riken research institute to develop treatments to regrow lost hair, eyeing a full-fledged entry into the booming regenerative medicine field.
The Meiji Holdings unit will work mainly with Takashi Tsuji, head of the Laboratory for Organ Regeneration at the Riken Center for Developmental Biology. Tsuji is known for using stem cells to regrow hair and teeth in mice. During the three-year partnership, Meiji Seika Pharma will test whether his research is applicable to humans and, if so, whether it can be commercialized.
Riken will provide the necessary facilities, while Meiji Seika Pharma will furnish the funds. Should the research eventually lead to a marketable product, Meiji Seika Pharma plans to acquire a license from Riken to sell it.
No cure exists for hair loss, which is believed to afflict more than 12 million adult men in Japan. Regenerative medicine is seen as a promising avenue for treatment.
With conventional drugs becoming tougher to develop, pharmaceutical companies are increasingly turning to regenerative medicine. Japan has relaxed regulations in the field, requiring a shorter period of clinical testing than is needed for other medical products.