An estimated eight million people in Japan are troubled by thinning or loss of hair and approximately 5.6 million use hair growth products. Despite this, the causes of common androgenic alopecia (AGA) in men and thinning hair in women remain unknown in many respects.
Hair shafts are generated through the repeated division of hair matrix cells in the hair follicle, which is controlled by dermal papilla. Using hair matrix cells and dermal papilla removed from a living hair follicle, we established a co-culture system by which we can evaluate the interaction between hair matrix cells and dermal papilla. We then screened many natural substances using this system and discovered that St. John's Wort extract was effective in activating the proliferation of hair matrix cells and promoting hair growth.
The next step was to isolate and identify astilbin, the active ingredient in St. John's Wort extract. We then used astilbin as a lead compound in the synthesis of t-flavanone, a derivative that has proven highly effective for both AGA in men and thinning hair in women.
Our recent research focuses on the control mechanism of cell differentiation that constitutes hair follicle tissue, by using iPS cells. We do not undertake any research with embryonic stem cells and all research we conduct is in accordance with publicly established operational standards. By clarifying these and other action mechanisms discovered through basic research, we will continue to propose new hair-growth mechanisms and theories of hair beauty. We are committed to advancing our research in this field so that we can develop more effective hair-growth products and beautifying agents for use around the world.
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