MAR 10, 2019 1:09 PM PDT

A Skin Bioprinter May Soon Heal Wounds Rapidly

WRITTEN BY: Carmen Leitch

It may sound like science fiction, but researchers are working on developing a printer that could be filled with a patient’s cells, and then used in the clinic to print new layers of skin so that burns or wounds could heal more quickly. Scientists at the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine (WFIRM) have already created the world’s first mobile skin bioprinter, that can print bilayered 'skin' directly into wounds. The work has been published in Scientific Reports.

A WFIRM technician operates the mobile bio printer for skin printing on a limb demo./ Credit: WFIRM Photo

"The unique aspect of this technology is the mobility of the system and the ability to provide on-site management of extensive wounds by scanning and measuring them in order to deposit the cells directly where they are needed to create skin," explained the lead author of the report  Sean Murphy, Ph.D., a WFIRM assistant professor.

Large wounds that are chronic or challenging to treat are costly, and negatively impact the lives of millions of Americans. Burns present many challenges as well; they are susceptible to infection, for example. It’s thought that burn injuries cause between ten and thirty percent of conventional combat casualties.

In this new technology, the two main kinds of skin cells (epidermal keratinocytes and dermal fibroblasts) are isolated from uninjured tissue. That supply is expanded and mixed into a hydrogel, which is then put into the bioprinter. With advanced imaging technology, the wound is scanned and fed into software, and print heads are thus informed about where in the wound to send which cells. Keratinocytes are found in the outermost layer while fibroblasts aid with healing and synthesize collagen. Thus, the normal structure and function of skin can be replicated, accelerating damage repair. 

The system was tested on pre-clinical models, as seen in the photo and the video. The next step is to try the technology on humans. 

"The technology has the potential to eliminate the need for painful skin grafts that cause further disfigurement for patients suffering from large wounds or burns," said study co-author and WFIRM Director Anthony Atala, MD. "A mobile bioprinter that can provide on-site management of extensive wounds could help to accelerate the delivery of care and decrease costs for patients."

"If you deliver the patient's own cells, they do actively contribute to wound healing by organizing up front to start the healing process much faster," noted study co-author James Yoo, MD, Ph.D. "While there are other types of wound healing products available to treat wounds and help them close, those products don't actually contribute directly to the creation of skin."


Sources: AAAS/Eurekalert! via Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, Scientific Reports

About the Author
BS
Experienced research scientist and technical expert with authorships on over 30 peer-reviewed publications, traveler to over 70 countries, published photographer and internationally-exhibited painter, volunteer trained in disaster-response, CPR and DV counseling.
You May Also Like
OCT 03, 2022
Microbiology
Using Microbes to Grow Modular Materials
OCT 03, 2022
Using Microbes to Grow Modular Materials
Microbial growth is everywhere. So can we use it to our benefit? Using the Caulobacter crescentus bacterium, researchers ...
OCT 06, 2022
Chemistry & Physics
2022 Nobel Prize in Chemistry
OCT 06, 2022
2022 Nobel Prize in Chemistry
It’s that time of year again! Three scientists, Carolyn R. Bertozzi, Morten Meldal, and K. Barry Sharpless, were a ...
OCT 26, 2022
Cell & Molecular Biology
Researchers Reveal Genetic 'Borgs' in the Microbial World
OCT 26, 2022
Researchers Reveal Genetic 'Borgs' in the Microbial World
If you're a Star Trek fan, you've heard of the Borg, a hive-mind that can assimilate others as they seek to take control ...
NOV 03, 2022
Immunology
A Dietary Fiber Can Affect the Microbiome & Trigger Inflammation
NOV 03, 2022
A Dietary Fiber Can Affect the Microbiome & Trigger Inflammation
Inulin is one type of fiber that we consume in our diets, and can be found in fruits, vegetables, and grains including w ...
NOV 17, 2022
Neuroscience
Fluorescent Proteins Extend Blood Flow Tracking to Months in Mice
NOV 17, 2022
Fluorescent Proteins Extend Blood Flow Tracking to Months in Mice
Harmless, fluorescent proteins allow scientists to track blood flow in mice. The advance could help researchers monitor ...
NOV 23, 2022
Genetics & Genomics
How Mutant Mitochondrial DNA is Removed
NOV 23, 2022
How Mutant Mitochondrial DNA is Removed
Mitochondria are very special organelles. These cellular powerhouses do more than generate energy. They are known to car ...
Loading Comments...