Nav: Home

Using 3D-printing to stop hair loss

June 25, 2019

Columbia researchers have created a way to grow human hair in a dish, which could open up hair restoration surgery to more people, including women, and improve the way pharmaceutical companies search for new hair growth drugs.

It is the first time that human hair follicles have been entirely generated in a dish, without the need for implantation into skin.

Using 3D-Printing to Stop Hair Loss

For years it's been possible to grow mouse or rat hairs in the lab by culturing cells taken from the base of existing follicles.

"Cells from rats and mice grow beautiful hairs," Christiano says. "But for reasons we don't totally understand, human cells are resistant."

To break the resistance of human hair cells, Christiano has been trying to create conditions that mimic the 3D environment human hair cells normally inhabit. The lab first tried creating little spheres of cells inside hanging drops of liquid. But when the spheres were implanted in mice, the results were unpredictable: The cells from some people created new hair while others didn't.

3D Printing Creates Patterned Hair Follicles

In the new study, Christiano's team exploited the unique capability of 3D printers to create a more natural microenvironment for hair follicle growth.

The researchers used 3D printing to create plastic molds with long, thin extensions only 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," says Erbil Abaci, PhD, first author of this study.

After human skin was engineered to grow around the mold, hair follicle cells from human volunteers were placed into the deep wells and topped by cells that produce keratin. The cells were fed a cocktail of growth factors spiked with ingredients, including JAK inhibitors, that the lab has found stimulates hair growth.

After three weeks, human hair follicles appeared and started creating hair.

Hair Farms Could Expand Availability of Hair Restoration

Though the method needs to be optimized, engineered human hair follicles created in this way could generate an unlimited source of new hair follicles for patients undergoing robotic hair restoration surgery.

Hair restoration surgery requires the transfer of approximately 2,000 hair follicles from the back of the head to the front and top. It is usually reserved for male patients whose hair loss has stabilized and who have enough hair to donate.

"What we've shown is that we can basically create a hair farm: a grid of hairs that are patterned correctly and engineered so they can be transplanted back into that same patient's scalp," Christiano says.

"That expands the availability of hair restoration to all patients--including the 30 million women in the United States who experience hair thinning and young men whose hairlines are still receding. Hair restoration surgery would no longer be limited by the number of donor hairs."

The engineered follicles also could be used by the pharmaceutical industry to screen for new hair growth drugs. Currently, high throughput screening for new hair drugs has been hampered by the inability to grow human hair follicles in a lab dish. No drugs have been found by screening; the only two approved for the treatment of pattern hair loss--finasteride and minoxidil--were initially investigated as treatments for other conditions.

The team hopes that cultured hair farms will open up the ability to perform high throughput drug screens to identify new pathways that influence hair growth.
-end-
The study, titled "Tissue engineering of human hair follicles using a biomimetic developmental approach," was published in Nature Communications.

Other authors: Hasan Erbil Abaci, Abigail Coffman, Yanne Doucet, James Chen, Joanna Jacków, Etienne Wang, Zongyou Guo, Jung U. Shin (all from Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons) and Colin A. Jahoda (Durham University, Durham, U.K.).

The research was supported by the NIH (National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences grant UH2EB017103; National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases grants K01AR072131 and P30AR069632); New York State Stem Cell Science (SDH C029550); an Ines Mandl Research Foundation Fellowship; and a CUIMC Precision Medicine Research Fellowship (with funds from NIH grant UL1TR001873).

Dr. Christiano and Dr. Jahoda are founders of Rapunzel Bioscience Inc., which focuses on developing regenerative therapies for skin and hair disorders. The remaining authors declare no competing interests.

Columbia University Irving Medical Center

Related Drugs Articles:

Wallflowers could lead to new drugs
Plant-derived chemicals called cardenolides - like digitoxin - have long been used to treat heart disease, and have shown potential as cancer therapies.
Bristol pioneers use of VR for designing new drugs
Researchers at the University of Bristol are pioneering the use of virtual reality (VR) as a tool to design the next generation of drug treatments.
Towards better anti-cancer drugs
The Bayreuth biochemist Dr. Claus-D. Kuhn and his research team have deciphered how the important human oncogene CDK8 is activated in cells of healthy individuals.
Separating drugs with MagLev
The composition of suspicious powders that may contain illicit drugs can be analyzed using a quick and simple method called magneto-Archimedes levitation (MagLev), according to a new study published in the journal Angewandte Chemie.
People are more likely to try drugs for the first time during the summer
American teenagers and adults are more likely to try illegal or recreational drugs for the first time in the summer, a new study shows.
Drugs used to enhance sexual experiences, especially in UK
Combining drugs with sex is common regardless of gender or sexual orientation, reveals new research by UCL and the Global Drug Survey into global trends of substance-linked sex.
Promising new drugs for old pathogen Mtb
UConn researchers are targeting a metabolic pathway, the dihydrofolate reductase pathway, crucial for amino acid synthesis to treat TB infections.
Can psychedelic drugs heal?
Many people think of psychedelics as relics from the hippie generation or something taken by ravers and music festival-goers, but they may one day be used to treat disorders ranging from social anxiety to depression, according to research presented at the annual convention of the American Psychological Association.
New uses for existing antiviral drugs
Broad-spectrum antiviral drugs work against a range of viral diseases, but developing them can be costly and time consuming.
New TB drugs possible with understanding of old antibiotic
Tuberculosis, and other life-threatening microbial diseases, could be more effectively tackled with future drugs, thanks to new research into an old antibiotic by the University of Warwick and the Francis Crick Institute.
More Drugs News and Drugs Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Our Relationship With Water
We need water to live. But with rising seas and so many lacking clean water – water is in crisis and so are we. This hour, TED speakers explore ideas around restoring our relationship with water. Guests on the show include legal scholar Kelsey Leonard, artist LaToya Ruby Frazier, and community organizer Colette Pichon Battle.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#569 Facing Fear
What do you fear? I mean really fear? Well, ok, maybe right now that's tough. We're living in a new age and definition of fear. But what do we do about it? Eva Holland has faced her fears, including trauma and phobia. She lived to tell the tale and write a book: "Nerve: Adventures in the Science of Fear".
Now Playing: Radiolab

Uncounted
First things first: our very own Latif Nasser has an exciting new show on Netflix. He talks to Jad about the hidden forces of the world that connect us all. Then, with an eye on the upcoming election, we take a look back: at two pieces from More Perfect Season 3 about Constitutional amendments that determine who gets to vote. Former Radiolab producer Julia Longoria takes us to Washington, D.C. The capital is at the heart of our democracy, but it's not a state, and it wasn't until the 23rd Amendment that its people got the right to vote for president. But that still left DC without full representation in Congress; D.C. sends a "non-voting delegate" to the House. Julia profiles that delegate, Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, and her unique approach to fighting for power in a virtually powerless role. Second, Radiolab producer Sarah Qari looks at a current fight to lower the US voting age to 16 that harkens back to the fight for the 26th Amendment in the 1960s. Eighteen-year-olds at the time argued that if they were old enough to be drafted to fight in the War, they were old enough to have a voice in our democracy. But what about today, when even younger Americans are finding themselves at the center of national political debates? Does it mean we should lower the voting age even further? This episode was reported and produced by Julia Longoria and Sarah Qari. Check out Latif Nasser's new Netflix show Connected here. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.