Aug 17 - New 3D Printing Technology Uses Stem Cells

A team of researchers from Columbia University has discovered a new way to grow human hair using stem cells. The technique uses 3D printing technology to simulate the human scalp and facilitate hair growth.

Millions of people around the world suffer from hair loss (Alopecia), either due to natural causes or because of a medical treatment that they have received, like chemotherapy. In some cases, the scalp becomes permanently incapable of growing human hair.

This can affect a person’s self esteem and overall quality of life. Many alopecia suffers resort to hair transplants, where hairs are taken from one part of their body and added to their scalp.

The Columbia University researchers hope to make the process of receiving a hair transplant much easier with their new 3D-printed stem cell technology. This technology allows them to grow natural human hair in a clinic, which can then be transplanted to a recipient.


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The most significant part of this new breakthrough is that the researchers were able to use 3D printing to create a scaffold to hold the new human hairs. This means they do not require skin to grow the hairs, which is a much more flexible approach.

Previously, researchers who grew hair using stem cells relied upon animals. They were also restricted to growing rat and mouse hairs, not fully formed human hairs.

The researchers began by creating a 3D printed microenvironment that mimicked human hair follicles. They grew human skin around the mould using stem cells then added hair follicle cells along with some keratin-producing cells. Several growth factors were used to stimulate hair growth. They saw their first hairs within 3 weeks.

This breakthrough may soon mean that hair restoration surgery would no longer be limited by the number of donor hairs that are available.

Source: How 3D printing allows scientists to grow new human hairs