Scientists at Hatzövf University in Germany have developed what they believe could be a cure for baldness using polymer-based technology.
The new process involves the user receiving treatment via a medical device cap infused with microscopic polymer resin, attached to the hair follicles with electrodes.
Professor Markus Lötz pioneered the new technology, which is inspired by 4D printing, a process in which polymers and other materials are engineered to display life-like characteristics.
Herr Lötz explained: “I started work on this project when my own hair began to fall out in my early thirties. My hair was my crowning glory; it was the talk of the town.
“I’m an additive manufacturing engineer by background, and I started reading articles about 4D printing on my favourite news site, Medical Plastics News.”
The device, which is called Lockz, encourages the hair follicles to literally extrude plastic. Herr Lötz says there is cautionary advice when using it however.
“Different individuals will extrude plastic from their heads at different rates. One participant in an early clinical trial woke up with 2 meters of PVC sprouting from his scalp. It was a really hair raising experience, back in those first days.”
The Lockz device is currently awaiting regulatory approvals, at which point Herr Lötz will seek manufacturing partners to help him achieve commercial supply.
However not everyone is convinced by the concept. Johan Kutz, President of the European Alliance of Wigmakers said: “I can’t see how this technology can possibly work with any lasting effect – and if it does, it’ll be devastating for our sector.
Herr Kutz continued: “The public should always be wary of untested technologies that impart foreign particles into the body.”
It’s good news for pro-recycling groups however. The technology is designed to use recycled plastic particulate in the follicle blend. Ms Polly Murs (whose brother is a famous pop star in the UK) said: “This is a great concept for bringing more plastic out of the waste stream and back into useful application. We’re very excited about Herr Lötz’s work.”