Researchers in Spain have developed a bioprinter capable of 3D-printing human skin suitable for transplant. The same scientists have already developed, designed and implemented 3-D printed skin for use in patients with severe burns, but with one hurdle: it took too long to print the desired amount. It’s that dilemma that prompted this new type of printer that can now generate a 100cm x 100cm area of skin (the same height as a movie poster – but a little wider) in 30 minutes.
The realm of 3D printing within the medical arena faces challenges, namely, how can a synthetic object be transplanted into the human body? What if it’s rejected?
This latest team, whose work was published in Biofabrication journal, tackled that very issue by choosing “bio inks” to render the skin. These printing materials include biological components that allow the skin to be fully integrated following the transplant. This is achieved by using actual human cells. When used in the bioprinter it allows the skin to become active and produce human collagen.
This could be a viable option for surgeons and dermatologists seeking less invasive ways of healing patients. Normally, for those suffering from serious burns, a skin graft is taken – typically from the back of the leg – and that can take several weeks to heal, and is very costly. Using a 3D bioprinter should allow for a faster recovery time and keep costs to a minimum, according to Alfredo Brisac, CEO of BioDan Group who currently holds the patent for the machine: “This method of bioprinting allows skin to be generated in a standardized, automated way, and the process is less expensive than manual production.”
This opens the doors to the notion of artificial organs being manufactured in less than six years, removing the need for donors.
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