An assistant professor at National Taiwan University’s biomedical engineering institute has utilized tissue-engineering technology to offer new hope in the fight against baldness.
Professor Lin Sung-jan took 10 hair follicles from rodents and cultivated 8 to 10 million dermal papilla cells in vitro in 20 days. Using aggregates of between 3 and 5 million dermal papilla cells, he mixed these with rodent skin cells and transplanted them onto bare rodent skin, which sprouted hair.
Lin’s findings were published in the internationally renowned tissue-engineering journal, Biomedical Materials, and also earned him Academia Sinica’s 2009 Junior Researcher Award June 1. The award committee felt his use of biomedical materials to develop micro-tissues capable of insertion and verification via animal testing had value for clinical applications in inducing and facilitating hair follicle regeneration.
Discovering that dermal papilla cells function to send signals and implement instructions, Lin developed biomaterial that can assemble and produce such cells. He also developed a bio-reaction device for use in mass-producing micro-tissues to induce hair follicle regeneration.
Lin has also taken human hair follicles and conducted similar experiments, successfully growing hair on the skin of rodents. In future, he hopes to be able to control the size and color of hair grown.
“Hair that is too thick or thin will not do,” Lin said. “If hair color can be controlled, it will be possible to transplant white or even blond hair.”