Category Archives: 3D Culturing

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

Theracell: Cell Based Hair Regeneration via 3D Culturing

A new player has entered the hair loss world by the name of Theracell. Interestingly, the company is headquartered in the UK, but its laboratory is in Greece and its management team is entirely composed of people with Greek names.

More importantly, the management team is composed of very experienced PhDs. Even more importantly, the team members with photos are all somewhat balding. I tend to assume that balding people are usually more passionate about curing hair loss than are non-balding people, although that is of course not necessarily true.


Theracell is trying to regrow hair via cell-based hair regeneration. They state that they will isolate stem cells from 10-20 follicles and use 3-D culturing to increase their numbers significantly prior to injecting them into the scalp as pre-follicular units. I wonder if their 3-D culturing method is similar to that developed by the renowned Colin Jahoda?

Although their cell-based hair regeneration page linked above did not specifically mention dermal papilla cells, the company is culturing dermal papilla cells per other parts of their website. They also list the name of their hair regeneration product as TC-RBD-5131, with “RBD” standing for Regenerative BioDermatology. The company is involved in a few other areas of medicine besides dermatology.

Perhaps I am being a bit too discerning, but on Theracell’s home page, I was quite surprised to see the word “Careers” in the top upper right spelled as “Carreers”. Quite a few photos on the site are not loading, while there are various other typos and inconsistencies. I would not be surprised if the company currently has few employees and limited funding as is often the case with some of the newer companies that I have covered on this blog.

But I will repeat…..thankfully, the management team is balding. It also seems like for a small country with just 11 million people, Greece is disproportionately represented in the hair transplant world. There are quite a few hair transplant surgeons based in Greece, and the well known hair transplant behemoth DHI Global is headquartered in that country.

As an aside and totally off-topic (except a connection with Greece) conclusion to this post, I have always felt that people who have a lot of body hair, especially back hair, tend to go bald much faster than people without much body hair and have said so before on this blog. I reached that conclusion over a decade ago based on what I observed in my own extended family and from what I have since observed in gym and swimming pool changing rooms.

Of course there are always exceptions to this rule, but the correlation is very strong. Many Greeks/Persians/Armenians are known to be very hirsute when it comes to their body hair, yet balding on their scalps. I started to notice this phenomenon over a decade ago when I was an avid tennis fan and followed Andre Agassi (Persian ethnicity) and Pete Sampras (Greek ethnicity). I am convinced that Pete Sampras has had a hair transplant since he retired.