Japanese biotech firm to develop artificial hair

Wig maker Aderans Co. has teamed with bioventure firm Spiber Inc. to develop protein-based artificial hair that is similar to natural hair.

Tokyo-based Aderans and Spiber, based in Tsuruoka, Yamagata Prefecture, aim to commercialize the artificial hair in two years.

The artificial hair “will be made 100 percent from protein,” Aderans President Yoshihiro Tsumura said. “Its strongest point will be that it does not easily break. It would be possible to get the hair permed and colored.”

In the collaboration, Aderans will utilize its hair-related technologies, including those to reproduce the unique feel and properties of natural hair.

Spiber will contribute by providing its proprietary technologies to design proteins at the genetic level and produce them through fermentation in microorganisms.

Aderans started developing artificial hair in 1983 as natural hair for wigs, supplied mainly from developing countries, was expected to be in short supply.

Its conventional artificial hair, meanwhile, uses petrochemical fibers. Aderans decided to join hands with Spiber as it saw the need to find a renewable alternative not reliant on petroleum resources.

Spiber was set up in 2007 by Keio University researchers. It is known for its technologies to mass-produce synthetic spider silk.

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