Kang Da-witt, chairman of the Han Bio Group, says the company has developed “Chopping technology” to cultivate and grow hair strands in a massive way. “We have succeeded in the mass culturing of dermal papilla cells called HDPC that plays significant roles in hair growth and formation,” he said.
In an interview with The Korea Post, the chairman stressed that using this technology it would take a single strand of a patient’s hair to cultivate enough cells to reproduce about 30,000 hair strands.” Following is a summary of the interview:
Question: What is the reason that Han Bio became interested in hair loss treatment?
Answer: I don't have much hair. I am a Christian, and I got the idea of cultivating hair cells during prayer at dawn. When I came to work one day, I recommended Yoon Jeong-in (now CEO of Han Mobio) to cultivate hair cells. Yoon was not interested, but about a month later, she started incubating dermal papilla cells. We have used our own methods while at the same time referring to numerous documents.
We finally succeeded in the mass culturing of dermal papilla cells in our own way. At first, we thought it would be amazing if we could reproduce 10,000 hair strands with 1,000 strands, but it grew to as many as 30,000 strands. There are 3,000 dermal papilla cells in each hair follicle. We need to tear off the cells that are clumped together to cultivate them. The dermal papilla cells absorb nutrients from the blood through capillaries to grow hair. It is the cell that plays a pivotal role in hair growth and formation.
While we used chemicals or interfered with cell culture in the past to tear off the cells, we now physically separate them and create conditions that allow them to grow purer. This is the patented Chopping technology. Using this technology, we separate cells and cultivate them and grow them up to 30,000 strands.
Q: How do you extract the dermal papilla cells?
A: These cells can only be reliably stored at affiliated hospitals. After local anesthesia, we use a hair follicle transplant to extract even the hair root. When we arrive at the lab within 24 hours in a frozen transport container, the lab extracts the dermal papilla cells by separating them.
Q: Isn't it difficult to extract? What about extraction time and cost?
A: Kim Nam-sik, director of our affiliated hospital, H Clinic, stores hair follicles himself. He is the best veteran doctor who has involved in hair transplants for a long time. But collecting dermal papilla cells from the lab requires a rigorous standard of facilities. What is more, the efforts of skilled researchers are needed.
It takes about 10 minutes to store hair follicles from the hospital. But If you include the time to separate the dermal papilla cells in the lab, it can take more than 30 minutes. The entire cost involves collecting hair follicles, separating dermal papilla cells and freezing them. We don't charge extra for collection only.
Q: How many strands are there in the hairs of ordinary people?
A: It is about 6,000 strands from the front to the back. The top of the head has about 3,000 strands. The whole strands can grow up to about 30,000. Our cell banking service costs 4.8 million won including incubation when needed and is stored for 40 years.
Q: Did you record any sales or received actual customers?
A: The dermal papilla cell banking service started in late December in 2010 and is now about three months old, and the cells have been stored by about 300 people so far. Not much is publicized yet, but monthly banking service customers are rising substantially.
Q: When do you think it can be commercialized?
A: I think the word commercialization is linked to a procedure called clinical studies under the advanced regenerative biology law which went into force in August 2020. In the past, if clinical studies took effect through 123 trials like general pharmaceutical products and went into commercialization, the cell therapies under the advanced regeneration bio law has opened the way for us to do it ourselves. Clinical studies which are expected to begin in the second half of this year, are needed for commercialization, but we are confident that it will be fully commercialized within a year or two.
Since we are cultivating dermal papilla cells, however, we have already finished analyzing the dermal papilla cells. To be more specific, it is a variety of growth factors that are released during the incubation of the dermal papilla cells. We are considering releasing hair care products or hair loss treatments in the second half of this year. I think shampoo, which is a regular hair care product, will come out faster because hair loss treatment products also need to go through various procedures
As we see it, there are three fundamental solutions to overcoming hair loss: first, the banking of dermal papilla cells, second, transplant through cell culture, third, hair loss control treatment, and hair care products. If we bank healthy hair cells in advance, incubate and transplant them if necessary, and take care of our hair health, I think humans will be able to overcome complete hair loss.
Q: Are there anything else you would like to add?
A: We, Han Bio, are a cell banking-specialized bio corporation. And our goal is to become the world's best bio company that is dedicated to saving many lives. Not only does Han Bio's hair loss solutions make Korea the hub of hair loss treatment, but we also dream of giving many patients fighting cancer a new life through NK (natural killer) immune cells and treating incurable diseases through stem cells. We aspire to be the best global company in this field.
Profile of CEO
Kang Da-witt, Chairman of Han Bio Group
Born: September 21, 1972.
Graduated from Dongguk University majoring in Computer Statistics 2000.2
2015: CEO of Korea Victor Crown Co., Ltd.
Yoon Jeong-in, CEO of Han Mobio
Born: March 1, 1985
Birthplace: Gyeongsan City, Gyeongsangbuk-do
Currently, a PhD candidate in biotechnology at Inha University.
2010 Seoul National University Hospital Biomedical Research Institute researcher
2011 Antrogen Research and Development Team
2019 Han Bio Research Institute Director
Currently, Professor of Medical Engineering at Daelim University & Han Mobio CEO