New Delhi: Baldness can be cured it seems, and for this, researchers have recently come up with 3D-printed hair follicles in the human skin tissue. On the one hand, naturally, growing hair is a process which takes several years or weeks and months in case of a hair transplant. But this one is a major step forward in giving a boost for skin grafts and drug testing. Expert, who led the study, said that the research is proof that hair follicles can be created with precision using 3D printing.
As per researchers, the automated process is a must for future biomanufacturing purposes of the skin if possible. Researchers said that the reconstruction of hair follicles using human-derived cells has been a challenge since years. Some studies also show that these cells are cultured in a 3D environment and they can also support growth of hair shafts and follicles as well.
Hair follicles maintain moisture, regulate temperature and house stem cells which help the skin heal when it gets injured. This is also how cosmetics and topical drugs enter the body.
A team of researchers at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York worked for this to find a way to create follicle-bearing skin with 3D printing techniques at a cellular level. Experts allowed samples of follicle cells to multiply and divide in the lab till they were substantial enough to print. Each of these were combined with other material and proteins to form a bio-ink. The skin was then printed in layers with a thin needle – channels were also created for deposit hair cells.
The current lifespan of the tissues is two to three weeks, which, researchers say, is not enough to let hair shafts to develop. But researchers hope to extend this duration to allow hair follicles to grow further mature and elongate. Researchers say that they have seen in the process that collection of cells can be a precursor for formation of hair follicles. The same can be embedded in the skin using 3D printing – and when provided with the best conditions such as nutrients and growth factors, the cells start to self assemble to form follicle-like structures