News & Opinion | July 3, 2019 10:25 am

Could a 3D Printer Hold the Cure for Baldness?

Researchers have discovered a breakthrough in hair-loss treatment thanks to the emerging technology

3-D printing could hold the cure to thinning hair
3-D printing could hold the cure to thinning hair
Jurien Huggins/Unsplash

From pills and oils to surgery, there are countless products and procedures currently driving the billion-dollar hair-loss industry, but scientists may have finally found a breakthrough cure: someday soon, you may be able to 3D-print a new head of hair.

Scientists at Columbia University’s Irving Medical Center have discovered a way to combat hair loss using a 3D printer, the Daily Beast reported. A team of researchers led by Dr. Angela Christiano 3D-printed a mold that mimics the patterns of hair follicles. The scientists were able to successfully produce new growth by seeding donated hair follicles from lab volunteers into microscopic wells within the mold and adding a mixture of hair-stimulating growth factors.

Published in the scientific journal Nature, the research could be a major innovation in hair-restoration surgery, which currently requires 2,000 hair follicles to be taken from the back of the head and transplanted over the front, meaning the procedure is only available to those who still have enough remaining hair. With the help of 3D-printing technology, patients would be able to grow more follicles, opening up the procedure to a much wider range of individuals struggling with hair loss.

“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 said. “Hair restoration surgery would no longer be limited by the number of donor hairs.”

Unfortunately, it may be a while before the new hair-loss procedure is available to the general public. The research was not conducted on humans, meaning there’s still a long way to go before it can even enter clinical trials. Regardless, Christiano’s research is a promising step in the right direction.

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