The French cosmetics giant L’Oreal has teamed up with another French business, bioprinting firm Poietis, as they attempt to “print” living human hair follicles. We take a closer look.
L’Oreal are well know as the world’s largest manufacturer of cosmetics, but their turnover of 25B euros does not all come from lipstick and hairspray. You may not know that they are the largest holder of nanotechnology patents in the USA and take biopharmaceuticals very seriously indeed. Research has always been a key ingredient to their business, ever since they took on their first three chemists back in 1920. Today they have 20,000 chemists on the payroll working across half a dozen research and development facilities, the most recently opened were in China and India.
A 21st Century Approach
L’Oreal’s announcement that they are working with Poietis, a highly respected player in the world of bioprinting, is indicative of their appetite for finding original solutions to the oldest of problems, male pattern hair loss.
Their ambition is to use existing methods for manufacturing human skin cells in the lab and extend the understanding to the point where living human hair follicles can be produced using similar techniques.
How Is It Done?
The process involves firing a laser at a suspension of cells that have been harvested from a patient… it could very well be cells from the patient that is being treated but at the moment they are using cells from a patient with alopecia. These cells are propelled by the laser onto a substrate, a mesh containing the nutrients necessary for the cell to survive and grow. The hope is that by building these structures layer by layer they can produce a healthy living hair follicle.
Is It A Cure For Baldness?
Not yet, and not for some time is the short answer. But this is a bold and original approach. As L’Oreal’s Director of Predictive Methods and Models tells us “From one hair you can maybe make hundreds and hundreds of others”. We know it is a very difficult thing to do, we know many teams have tried. But we think that 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”.
So there you have it. Not a cure for hair loss, in the same way that going to the moon is not interstellar travel… but the lessons you learn on that moonshot will surely move you along the road towards greater achievements.
HIS Hair Clinic
You can be sure that the team at HIS keep a weather eye out for promising research in the field of hair loss although, as many of you will realise, most are pie in the sky. News out of one of the world’s largest companies that they are putting their deep resources into exploring new avenues of research are to be welcomed with open arms. To the team collaborating at L’Oreal and Pieotis we say “Bonne chance!”
In the meantime, you can be assured of a warm and understanding welcome at any of our clinics to discuss your own hair loss situation. One of our experts will, during a free consultation, assess and offer the right solution from our wide range of world class treatments and therapies. Find your nearest clinic by clicking here
– we look forward to hearing from you.