Researchers Find An Innovative Solution to Hair Loss

From space exploration to interior design, 3D printing technology keeps expanding its presence both in our business and private lives, tapping into a variety of different areas.

Among all the industries where the technology grew its presence, the medical is definitely one of the most prominent.

Researchers and doctors have been one of the first and heaviest adopters of the technology, and news about sensational and inspiring discoveries made possible thanks to additive manufacturing technology have become so frequent that we are starting to consider them “expected”.

A new 3D printing technique has allowed researchers to grow hair from stem cells in laboratory dishes.

The latest discovery, however, is somehow unusual although it taps into a pretty common and kind of sensitive issue: hair loss.

A large number of people around the world, in fact, experience hair loss in one form or another, either due to natural causes or as a side effect of medical therapy. In many of these cases — especially in individuals with natural hair loss — the process is not reversible.

Luckily, researchers from Columbia University have found an innovative method to transplant new hair to the scalp of people experiencing hair loss using 3D printing technology.


Recreating the hair environment

Moved by the idea of being able to stimulate the growth of new hair in the lab instead of “simply” transplanting hair follicles from one part of a person’s body to another, the team decided to experiment with 3D printing techniques to see if they could create a microenvironment that mimicked the natural environment of human hair follicles more closely.

“The researchers ended up creating plastic molds with projecting extensions that were half a millimeter wide.

Next, the researchers managed to get human skin to grow around the mold. They placed hair follicle cells that they had collected from volunteers inside it, adding keratin-producing cells on top. Finally, they stimulated growth by adding in various growth factors.

This assay was successful — in no more than 3 weeks, the cells generated human hair follicles that were able to start growing hair.”

While the process still needs to be refined, it is safe to predict that we will soon be able to have a sustainable source of natural hair for transplants, providing a new, likely more reliable, solution for people affected by hair loss.



Categories: Biomedical, Innovation