Researchers 3D Print Hair Follicles in Lab-Grown Skin

A team at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute has achieved a notable advancement in 3D bioprinting by successfully integrating hair follicles into lab-grown human skin. This first-of-its-kind accomplishment was detailed in “Science Advances,” with potential applications in regenerative medicine and drug testing.

Led by Dr. Pankaj Karande, the team utilized an automated 3D-bioprinting process, essential for future biomanufacturing of skin. The importance of hair follicles extends beyond aesthetics; they contribute to skin healing and serve as conduits for topical drugs, impacting dermatological research.

Researchers 3D Print Hair Follicles in Lab-Grown Skin
Pankaj Karande, (left) and Carolina Catarino, bioprinting follicles (Image Credit: Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute)

The new approach involved culturing skin and follicle cells, then using them as bio-ink in a specialized 3D printer. This printer constructs the skin layer by layer, embedding hair cells to mimic natural follicle structures. The current iteration of these tissues has a lifespan of two to three weeks. The team’s future research aims to extend this, allowing hair follicles to mature and potentially revolutionizing drug testing and skin graft methodologies.

This development marks a significant advancement, opening possibilities for more complex skin models in dermatological research and potential applications in skin grafting. As this technology advances, it could substantially impact both the fields of regenerative medicine and cosmetic testing, offering more intricate and biologically relevant skin models.

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