An exciting breakthrough from Columbia University researchers demonstrates a new way to grow human hair follicles using 3D printed molds. This is the first time human hair follicle cells have been grown completely in lab conditions, opening up a potentially unlimited source of hair follicles for future hair restoration surgical procedures.
Over the last few decades hair transplantation surgery has rapidly evolved, becoming more sophisticated and successful, however the process has still fundamentally relied on hair follicles being redistributed from one part of the body to another. Growing human hair follicles in laboratory conditions has proved challenging for researchers, ultimately limiting the efficacy of hair restoration surgery, especially in patients without hair already present that can be grafted.
This new breakthrough brings together a couple of recent innovations. First, the researchers created a unique plastic mold using 3D printers. The moulds are designed to resemble a natural micro-environment stimulating hair follicle growth through tiny extensions just half a millimeter wide.
"Previous fabrication techniques have been unable to create such thin projections, so this work was greatly facilitated by innovations in 3D printing technology," explains first author on the study, Erbil Abaci.