Groundbreaking Study on 3D-Printed Hair Follicles
Scientists in the United States have achieved a major breakthrough by successfully 3D-printing hair follicles within lab-grown human skin tissue. This is the first time this has been accomplished in the evolving history of biomedical engineering. The results of the study from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute of New York were published in the journal Science Advances.
The hair follicles play a crucial role in maintaining body temperature through sweat production and harbor stem cells crucial for skin regeneration.
Significance of the Study
This feat is groundbreaking not only because of its potential as a cure for baldness, but also as a leap forward in regenerative medicine. The breakthrough also reflects the potential automation of processes in biomanufacturing skin. The 3-D cultivation of human-derived cells demonstrates promise in generating new hair follicles and shafts, as well as advancements in successful skin grafts.
Implications for Skin Research
So far, safety assessments have often relied on hairless engineered skin tissues. The incorporation of hair follicles into skin models provides researchers with a more realistic platform to explore how the skin interacts with various formulations. This paves the way for the testing of more effective treatments for diverse skin conditions.
Conducting the Study
The research team at the Rensselaer Institute used 3D-printing techniques tailored for cellular-level precision. The process involved cultivating skin and follicle cells until a sufficient quantity of printable cells was obtained. These cells were then combined with proteins and other materials to create a specialized “bio-ink” for the printer. Using an ultra-thin needle, the printer deposited the bio-ink layer by layer, simultaneously creating channels for the placement of hair cells. Over time, skin cells migrated to these channels, mimicking the natural follicle structures present in authentic skin.
The successful printing of hair follicles with the prospect of 3D-printed skin grafts capable of growing hair marks an advancement in the scientific realm of skin tissue engineering. This breakthrough is set to shape the future of medical procedures concerning artificial hair transplant.