Baldness could finally be cured thanks to 3D printers creating real human hair
SCI & TECH
| Oct 16th 2016 | 2 min read
SCI & TECH
Baldness could finally be cured thanks to a new 3D printing technique.
Cosmetics giant L’Oreal believes has teamed up with Poietis, a French bioprinting company, in an attempt to print living human hair follicles.
Those follicles could be printed and, using a laser, then inserted into the patient’s head using living cells of their own hair.
The printer works by firing a laser at a cartridge containing “ink”, which is in fact a suspension of cells.
These come from alopecia patients, after hair surgery, but it is also possible to take a patient’s own cells and multiply them in a laboratory.
The laser propels a stream of these cells onto a substrate, a substance containing nutrients on which they can grow.
By doing this layer by layer, scientists believe they could grown something similar to a hair follicle.
José Cotovio, director of predictive methods and models at L’Oréal, said the pioneering technique could create a cure for millions of hair loss sufferers.
He said: “From one hair you can maybe make hundreds and hundreds of others.
“We know it is very difficult to do; we know a lot of teams have tried.
“But we think by reproducing this very complicated hair follicle we will acquire new knowledge and it will help us understand the mysteries of hair loss and ageing.”
He said they hoped that trying to replicate a follicle will help them to understand how it works, and that having follicles in a laboratory will give them something to test that insight on when they develop new products.
Mr Cotovio added: “This is the holy grail that we all have in mind to make something to put on the head of people with hair-loss problems.
“Hair loss is a very emotional problem for people, and this is the final target.
"But we get there step by step. We think this is the time. We have the knowledge and the technology.”
Thirty per cent of white men under the age of 30 will suffer from early signs of baldness, and this rises to 80 per cent of those in their 70s. It is less common in other races.
Manchester United and England footballer Wayne Rooney, 30, has spoken openly about his hair transplant when he tweeted the hashtag #hairwego.
However today’s techniques involves a gruelling process involving extracting and reimplanting thousands of follicles.
Fabien Guillemot, chief scientific officer at Poietis, said that he believed they could grow something resembling a follicle, but he acknowledged that it would be difficult.
“A hair follicle is a very small organ, half a millimetre across. We have to get everything right to have a hair grow at the end.”
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