Jun 20, 2011
3DPrintingNews
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Can 3D printing help save burns victims?

3d printing of human skin

Researchers aim to save lives with 3d printing of human skin

Researchers at the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine are working to unlock the healing benefits of 3d printing, with the aim of helping wounded soldiers.

The team have redeveloped a standard store bought 3d inkjet printer, to facilitate the printing of living cells as ink. Other modifications to this technology include the development of a 3D “elevator” and pressurized nozzles to allow a safe distance to be maintained between the printer and the patient.

Initial testing on mice has revealed an advanced rate of healing by the second and third week in comparison with the rate of healing in untreated subjects. A combination of skin cells, coagulants and collagen are printed directly onto the wounded tissue which are then topped by a layer of keratinocytes (i.e. skin cells) – also printed. On application to the wounded tissue the cells would mature to form new skin.

Future trials will be conducted on pigs, whose skin structure more closely resembles that of humans. While in reality 3d printing of human skin may yet be a long way off the promise of this technology is truly incredible. Research has shown that the longer it takes to cover a wound with skin, the higher the risk of infection, complications and death, should this technology reach local and field hospitals it is likely to have a significant impact on the survival rates of burns victims.

 

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