This press release might have flown under the radar back in July 2013 when it was released. It’s flown under the radar since then, too. However, there’s more than what meets the eye when it comes to this research.
First off, who are these guys? The Institute of Biotechnology and Engineering is based in Singapore and is headed by Executive Director Jackie Yi-Ru Ying. She was a former professor of chemical engineering at MIT. Impressive. According to it’s website, The IBN has research focused in nanomedicine, synthetic biosystems, biodevices and diagnostics, and green chemistry and energy. Here’s a cool PDF of their Cell and Tissue Engineering Portfolio.
The 3D Hair Follicle
The team who developed the 3D hair follicle structure is headed by Dr. Andrew Wan. In a nutshell, they have developed an in vitro 3D hair follicle model that mimics the cellular characteristics of a real hair follicle. Here’s a quote from Executive Director Jackie Ying:
“We have applied our cell and tissue engineering expertise to create a hair follicle-like structure that is very similar to the native hair follicle. This model allows us to better understand the mechanisms that control the development and growth of hair follicles. We hope that our invention would lead to novel ways to treat hair loss, which affects millions of people worldwide.”
And a follow-up from head researcher Dr. Andrew Wan:
“Measuring the diameter of a strand of hair, our hair follicle-like structure exhibits similar cell behavior as real hair follicles. In our model, the hair cells are implanted into very fine and transparent fibers, which can be easily examined under the microscope unlike conventional models, making them ideal for drug testing applications.”
One of the keys to the teams success was the patented microfiber fabrication technology used for engineering cells in three dimensions. The press release mentions that this technology could be well suited for pharmaceutical and OTC companies to test out hair growth or hair inhibiting compounds on the 3D model. I’m thinking, that’s pretty cool, but what about using this as a means for hair cloning? Good question, dude.
I Reached out to The IBN
I decided to email the good folks over at The IBN and see what was cooking with their 3D hair model. Basically, I was interested to know if they had garnered any interest from companies looking to test their compounds on the 3D hair model. Also, I wanted to know if they had further developed their research on the 3D model since the press release. They did not give me any new information, however they did say that they were not ready to release any further updates on the 3D hair follicle research.
My logic tells me that if they were not ready to release any further update on the research, then obviously there is something going on with it. I feel there is a very good chance they have either partnered to test compounds on the 3D hair model or perhaps even began researching the 3D hair model for cloning purposes. These are just my opinions. Either way, it seems to me that this research has further developed since that press release was given. Just as a tidbit, The IBN has active collaborations with Delta Electronics, IBM, Johnson & Johnson, and Procter & Gamble. So, it is clear that they are capable of world class developments.
There you have it. Another potentially game changing technology being developed behind the scenes now. We’ll have to stay tuned. Thanks for reading and enjoy!