3D Culturing of Hair and Dermal Papilla Cells

When it comes to hair cloning and tissue engineering, 3D culturing related research is booming. The 3D culturing of cells can occur via scaffold techniques or via scaffold free techniques such as 3D spheroids.

Update: March 11, 2022 — 3D bioprinting of a gelatin-alginate hydrogel for tissue-engineered hair follicle regeneration. This new approach from Chinese scientists permits the controllable formation of self-aggregating spheroids of dermal papilla cells. It also leads to the initiation of epidermal-mesenchymal interactions, which results in hair follicle formation in vivo.

Recent Studies on 3D Culturing of Hair Cells

Over the past few months, a number of studies have come out in relation to 3D culturing of hair cells (in particular, dermal papilla cells). Below, I list them from most recent to oldest.

July 27, 2020 — A new study from North Carolina State University compared 3D versus 2D cultured dermal papilla cells. The 3D dermal papilla cells in a scaffold performed best in regrowing hair. More interestingly, the scientists also studied microRNAs (miRNAs) in dermal exosomes from both the 2D and 3D DP cells. The team then identified one (miR-218-5p) in particular as a key promoter of hair growth. Per lead study investigator Dr. Ke Cheng, the best part is that MiRNAs can be developed into small molecule-based drugs, including creams. A much easier feat in comparison to cell growth, expansion and injection.

June 16, 2020 — Several people in the comments mentioned a new paper titled: “Generation of human hair follicle organoids in vitro and ex vivo by co-culture of primary human hair matrix keratinocytes and dermal papilla fibroblasts”. One of the co-authors of this paper is Dr. Ralf Paus. This experiment succeeded in human scalp skin and not just in mice (h/t reader “Joe”).

April 28, 2020 — Culturing human hair follicle dermal papilla cells in a 3D self-assembling peptide scaffold. The results of this study suggest a new potential 3D culture platform based on a self-assembling peptide scaffold called RAD16-I. This method successfully created hair follicle dermal papilla cells.

3D Culturing Hair Follicles
3D Culturing of Hair Follicles and Dermal Papilla Cells. Source: Wiley Online Library.

April 15, 2020 — A new paper on reconstructed human skin with working hair follicles. Co-authors include the renowned Dr. Roland Lauster and Dr. Gerd Lindner.

The results section has an interesting part titled “Comparison of cultured neopapillae spheroids with scalp hair dermal papillae”. Several of the images of the 3D cultured hair follicles are shown on the right. Neopapillae spheroids were constructed from expanded self‐aggregating dermal papilla cells.

December 26, 2019Tissue engineering strategies for human hair follicle regeneration. This review analyzes the various research approaches being developed to tackle hair follicle bioengineering. Lots of discussion about 3D culturing, various types of scaffolding and dermal papilla trichogenicity. For the scientifically inclined readers, Table 1 is quite useful and I am pasting a small part of it here:

Hair Follicle Tissue Engineering Approaches

December 13, 2018 — An important paper with Dr. Angela Christiano, Dr. Colin Jahoda and Dr. Etienne Wang as co-authors. They created 3D-printed hair follicle molds using a biomimetic approach. I covered this work in detail in my 2018 post on biomimetic tissue engineering of hair follicles.

October 22, 2013

3D Spheroid Culturing of Dermal Papilla Cells

This week seems to be full of interesting developments, but the below news made all the global headlines.

Dr. Angela Christiano (Columbia University — US) and Dr. Colin Jahoda (Durham University — UK) just released their latest findings on hair follicle culturing. Their main discovery involves using a “hanging-drop” method of 3D spheroid culturing of dermal papilla cells. As opposed to a regular 2D petri dish culturing method that had failed in the past.

This new 3D method has shown significant success. However, it is still a years away from being able to be used in humans with consistent and safe results.

Media Coverage

For more, see this video with the hair follicle blessed Dr. Christiano. Edit: Per the Fox News video in the link at the bottom, it seems like she wears a wig and suffers from Alopecia Areata.

An audio interview from BBC with Dr. Colin Jahoda

And now some other links to their findings:

Article from BBC

Article from New Scientist

Article from NYtimes

Article with Video from Fox News

47 thoughts on “3D Culturing of Hair and Dermal Papilla Cells”

    1. When will there actually be a cure for baldness? This has been talked about in depth since 1975 with no real results. All false promises & hope. Basically hopeless. Smoke & mirrors. Every year someone says in the next ten years. It’s already been nearly 50 years. What a joke.

      1. The Holy grail was never hair regrowth, it was erectile dysfunction and ultimately science found a cure for it …by accident, like many discoveries, so unless they get lucky …

      2. do you not understand the sheer complexity of the human body? much less the complexity inherent to AGA? if its such a joke I look forward to your expert opinion being published in the journal of dermatology soon. If you don’t like how fast the scientists and doctors are moving, pick up a book, go to medical school, and do a better job. just because you’re losing your hair doesn’t mean it’s hopeless, and just because you don’t understand the progress that’s been made doesn’t mean its smoke and mirrors.

  1. Does anyone know what has happened to Rapunzel Bioscience? It says the website has expired. Hopefully, this is just temporary, and perhaps related to the general disruption due to Covid. This is one company among many that are working on an effective cure. But one of the most promising. So I hope it does not signify anything more troubling. thanks.

    1. Hi Admin, can you see if you can get an interview with Dr. Christiano please so we get an update it’s been a long time.

      1. I think by now you should know that she’s a very busy lady. Also,when she does give interviews she does them with big TV stations ,she loves the mainstream media attention, lol.

        And thanks for the shout-out Admin!

        1. Joe, ya she’s all about research no cure just false hope. She’s cares more about AA. if she really cared about the AGA community she would be running to investors and applying for a IND from the FDA to start human trials for her hair cloning but almost after 2 years of that study in nature nothing has happened.

          1. I totally agree with you. Well, Dr Christiano will most certainly be in-front of the media in the next few months,let see what she has to say then.

          2. Then why are you for her interview if that is the case? We need to learn to shut up our mouth when we dont any substantial to say or write. I hope it will help you.

            1. What about free speech my friend, the last thing we need is to learn to “shut up our mouth”, as you put it :-)

  2. Alan J they probably shut down rapunzel for good. Dont stress too much about it, cristiano was never going to release anything for mpb. She is a researcher collecting grant money. I’ve been following her since 2001. All bs timelines. She said hair cloning would be commercial available in 2010 and gene therapy in 2020. Its 2020 and she shut down her site lol. Focus on SM, follica for any hope of new treatments. Everything else is years away. Plus tsuji stepped down which is probably a bad sign.

    1. Mjones the Tsuji stepping down from organ technology to take a advisor role doesn’t mean anything he’s still at the company. if anything it’s probably good because that means that maybe they don’t want like conflicts of interest or something legal before the start of human trials.

    1. Christiano’s main motivation is undoubtedly areata as she is a sufferer, but the approach she has been following for the last decades is equally applicable to MPB. If it proves possible to generate new issue for hair transplantation, why should it not be?? And, indeed, that is obviously where the money is. Some of the comments elsewhere here regarding use of research grants concern me as such comments are not backed up with even a shred of evidence.

  3. I’ve got to agree with Mjones. Not to say all research grants applications are phoney, but some are complete bs in many different fields. A bit like trust-fund kids living on big daddy’s endless stipend. I have an ex girlfriend who applies for her yearly grant via her university ‘research’ job. She spends half of it holidaying! Ha.

  4. I’m not sure how many companies need to produce successful hair follicle cells before they can get a product to market. Sounds like it’s still 5 years away.. as always

  5. The leap between growing a single follicle in a lab and the millions for a real human head in mass for everyone is a gigantic grand canyon leap. I say 15+ years for trials and everything too. This is a generational thing maybe your kids, but it wont help you.
    Stuff like Breezula or more proven avenues of maintenance are the best things still in the next 10 years. keeping your existing hair is the only option.

  6. When they say in “human scalp skin” what exactly do they mean? Is this skin attached to an actually living human?

  7. FIN & DUT against coronavirus.

    “Adding to the promise of antiandrogens is lab-based evidence from Fattahi’s study. Her team screened Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved drugs in heart cells in the lab to see which ones reduced levels of the essential SARS-CoV-2 receptor, angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2). Key hits included finasteride and dutasteride, drugs that block the conversion of testosterone to DHT, according to a 15 May preprint. Finasteride is FDA-approved to treat male pattern baldness and dutasteride for prostate enlargement. Dutasteride also reduced ACE2 levels in healthy human lung alveolar cells.”


  8. @Woofy97

    “Topical applications of 200 mcg/mL and 500 mcg/mL Rosemary Oil Extract inhibited the conversion of 5-alpha-reductase by 82.4 percent and 94.6 percent in the hair follicles, respectively. That’s better than finasteride’s inhibition percentage (81.9 percent).“


    1. @Woofy97

      Also Safflower (oil):

      “Carthamus tinctorius L. was the most potent 5α-reductase inhibitor, with a finasteride equivalent 5α-reductase inhibitory activity (FEA) value of 24.30±1.64 mg finasteride equivalent per 1g crude extract.”

      “ There were strong relationships between 5α-reductase inhibitory activity and hair growth promoting activity (r=0.719), and between 5α-reductase inhibitory activity and hair follicle count (r=0.766).”


      So besides saw palmetto/serenoa repens/sabal serrulata, we can add topical Rosemary Oil and topical Safflower Oil to the list of FIN alternatives.

      1. I just bought a bottle of Rosemary Oil Extract and Safflower Oil; I’ll combine them and apply overnight, see what happens.

        1. Don’t forget to mix Rosemary Essential oil with a carrier oil! Rosemary is a ‘hot’ oil. If you use it pure, it can burn your scalp.

          I mix 1 tablespoon Rosemary oil with 4 tablespoons of carrier oil (like coconut oil, olive oil,…). So 20% Rosemary, 80% carrier.

          I started a week ago with 1 topical application every night.

          1. The Rosemary EO should contain: 12-methoxycarnosic acid to inhibit 5a-reductase and
            carnosol which reduces oxidative stress.

            20%-80% oil mixture should approximate the 200 microgram per ml mentioned in the first study. Correct me if I am wrong…

            Too early to tell whether it does something for my scalp.

  9. can you Imagine in 2020 we are Bringing back Rosemary oil There must be Someone bewitching Us (the balders).

  10. @netshed can you give more details on Rosemary please? I want to add it to my RU / PG / water mix.
    I don’t know if it will work but can give it a go.
    What exactly do I need to buy for rosemary? Anything else?

    1. Rosemary essential oil, 20% of the mix
      Carrier oil (Like coconut, or olive oil) 80% of the mix
      Topical application every night before you go to sleep.
      Wash out in the morning.

      No guarantees …
      Don’t see any results myself after almost 2 weeks …
      Increased shedding, maybe it works (like Finasteride shed), maybe it doesn’t work (normal shedding continues / speeds up).

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