Scientists have come up with an advanced technology to reverse hair loss. Recently, scientists in the United States have 3D-printed hair follicles in lab-grown human skin tissue. This seems to be a major leap in the field of biomedical engineering.
The study was conducted by a team of scientists at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute of New York. This ground-breaking study was published in the journal Science Advances. It is the first of its kind to use this technology to develop hair follicles and plays a major role in skin functioning and healing.
This is a promising study that is sure to have applications in regenerative medicine and drug testing. That being said, the creation of skin grafts that support hair growth is not reachable yet.
The expert team has stated that their invention is proof that hair follicles can be grown and reproduced using the latest technology of 3D printing. They also added that such aspects are a must in making future biomanufacturing of skin a reality. Pankaj Karande, a member of Rensselaer’s Shirley Ann Jackson, Ph.D. Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies and an associate professor of chemical and biological engineering shared these thoughts.
He also added that the generation of healthy hair follicles from human-derived cells is a very difficult task. In the past, many studies have found that if the follicles are cultured in a 3D environment, it will help form new hair shafts efficiently. This is the concept that the recent study was based on.
The said study was conducted using 3D printing technology to ensure accuracy and precision. The whole process consisted of cultivating follicle cells and skin until they obtained enough quantity of cells that could be used for printing.
The cells produced in this manner were then mixed with protein and other substances. The derived material was used as ink for printing. The printer used this ink and deposited it in a layer form with the help of a very thin needle. At the same time, it also helped in the formation of channels where the hair cells can be placed.
Once the channels are ready, the lab-grown skin cells get into them and copy the natural hair follicle structures that were originally found in human skin. Medical expert and Director of the Shirley Ann Jackson, Ph.D. Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies, Deepak Vashishth said that Dr. Pankaj Karande’s lab is equipped with all technologies for efficient skin tissue engineering. He added his expert team has already established a successful method of printing skin with working blood vessels. He also said that their latest finding is a big leap toward treatments for burns and other skin problems.
The tissues developed using the 3D printing method are said to have a lifespan of around 2 to 3 weeks. This short period is not enough for hair shafts to develop fully. So, the next aim of this medical team is to extend this period so that the hair follicles can grow and reach maturity. Such hair follicles can then be used in drug testing and skin grafts.
Anyway, this technological advancement has paved for further developments in the field of skin tissue engineering. The 3D printing method to grow healthy hair shafts is surely a big step towards the coming of advanced procedures for artificial hair transplants. Several health experts in the field see this invention as promising and have shared their thoughts on it.