Cosmetics firm L’Oreal have announced that 3D printed hair follicles could one day used to treat hair loss.
The company, whom sell a range of hair care products, is partnering with a French bio-printing company called Poietis, which has developed a form of laser printing for cell-based objects.
The follicles would be created by using a laser-assisted bio-printing process developed by Poietis over the past couple of years.
The process begins with the creation of a digital map that determines where living cells and other tissue components should be placed to create the desired biological structure. This takes into account how the cells are expected to grow over time.
The file is then turned into instructions for the printing equipment, so that it can lay down tiny droplets made out of the cell-based “bio ink” one layer at a time.
The printing process involves bouncing a pulsing laser off a mirror and through a lens, so that when it hits a ribbon containing the bio ink, a droplet of the matter falls into place.
The resulting organic tissue would then need time to mature before the hair follicles are ready to grow.
Poietis says it has already used the technique to create cartilage and other viable types of cell lines, however the complexity of hair follicies means the creation process is likely to be a little more tricky than previous projects.
It is expected that any such move towards creating 3D printed hair follicles would take at least three years, as the process has currently never been done before.
Initially the follicles would be used to test new products, before hopefully eventually being used to treat hair loss.