A revolutionary new hair loss treatment that uses stem cell technology to regrow new hair could become commercially available in Japan before anywhere else in the world.
According to information released this week by Vancouver-based RepliCel Life Sciences, clinical testing in Japan in partnership with a company named Shiseido is likely to yield fruit before any other of RepliCel’s other trials. RepliCel’s CEO R. Lee Buckler said that: “We believe that Japan’s unique regenerative medicine regulatory and industry environment provides a unique opportunity to rapidly advance this product in their country. We are excited that RCH-01 has the potential to be launched in the Japanese market by Shiseido sooner than anywhere else in the world.”
RepliCel first started promising a commercially available product (the aforementioned RCH-01) not long after some groundbreaking research was announced by Japanese scientist Shinya Yamanaka five years ago. In 2012, he won the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine when he declared that mature cells could be converted into stem cells. It opened the floodgates into research into what became known as ‘cell pharmaceuticals’.
RepliCel’s technique involves re-activating existing hair follicles in people with the genetic hair loss conditions Male Pattern Baldness and Female Pattern Hair Loss. The method involves extracting hair from the scalp, identifying specific cell populations and then replicating them in a lab before they are implanted back into the areas of the scalp where they are needed.
RepliCel’s estimated launch date of 2016 was recently revised to 2018, and it would appear that this date may still be achievable – in Japan at least – although it has been noted that RepliCel have moved their launch dates fairly consistently up to now so it would not be a surprise if this was pushed back.
Cleared for testing
The latest flurry of excitement follows the news that RepliCel’s RCH-01 product is now cleared by the Japanese regulatory authorities for use in a clinical research study.
Set to begin imminently in Japan, the trial will involve 60 men and women with thinning hair, and will take place at the Tokyo Medical University Hospital and Toho University Ohasi Medical Centre. The goals of the trial will be to ascertain safety, as well as test the efficacy of the product based on hair fibre thickness and density.
RepliCel’s explanation of RCH-01 and the trial reads as follows: “RCH-01 is an autologous cell therapy utilising dermal sheath cup (DSC) cells isolated from the hair follicle to treat androgenetic alopecia. To manufacture RCH-01, dermal sheath cup cells are isolated from a small punch biopsy taken from the back of a subject’s scalp. These cells are replicated in a GMP compliant cell production facility and the cells are then injected into balding areas on the same subject’s scalp.
In clinical trials, after injections are performed, subjects return to the clinic at regular intervals for assessment of total, terminal and vellus hair density and cumulative hair thickness, as well as for safety and data collection.”
RepliCel are by no means the only organisation hoping to bring a stem cell-based hair loss treatment product to market: the area is seen as a possible future ‘cash cow’ for the bio-pharmaceutical industry as scientists hope to challenge existing methods of treating genetic baldness.
These are typically based around the two medically-proven treatments for androgenetic alopecia – minoxidil and finasteride 1mg. At Belgravia we have had and continue to see significant regrowth results in both men and women who use topical applications of high strength minoxidil from the range of formulations available at our in-clinic pharmacies.
In the hands of a dedicated hair loss specialist, this – along with finasteride 1mg for men only – can form the pharmaceutical backbone of a personalised hair loss treatment course that offers the best current chances of regrowth.
The Belgravia Centre
The Belgravia Centre is the leader in hair loss treatment in the UK, with two clinics based in Central London. If you are worried about hair loss you can arrange a free consultation with a hair loss expert or complete our Online Consultation Form from anywhere in the UK or the rest of the world. View our Hair Loss Success Stories, which are the largest collection of such success stories in the world and demonstrate the levels of success that so many of Belgravia’s patients achieve. You can also phone 020 7730 6666 any time for our hair loss helpline or to arrange a free consultation.