Handheld Bioprinter “Prints” New Skin Directly Onto Wounds

By: | February 10th, 2020

Image courtesy : IOP Publishing

Serious burn victims may soon get new skin. Thanks to Canadian scientists handheld device that “prints” sheets of artificial skin directly onto the wounds of burn victims.  Recently researchers tested the device on pigs, and it’s worked marvelously. 

Axel Günther, an associate Professor at the University of Toronto, said, “The analogy is a duct tape dispenser, where instead of a roll of tape you have a microdevice that squishes out a piece of tissue tape.”

Bioprinter treats burns that destroy both the upper and lower layers of skin

For treating severe burns, current treatments include skin grafting. In this treatment damaged tissue is replaced with healthy skin from another part of the body. However there are cases, when sufficient healthy skin is not left to use.

Axel Günther, said, “While there are alternatives… none are ideal. Collagen scaffolds rely on tissues and cells surrounding the wound to fully heal, while in vitro skin substitutes can take many weeks to prepare, and are difficult to apply successfully to a patient when the burn area is large.”

Healing a burn wound would be as simple as hitting “print.”  

The handheld device “prints” by depositing precursor sheets directly onto wounds of any size, shape, or topography. The sheets are comprised of a bioink based on fibrin, a protein associated with blood clotting and infused with mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs).  MSCs assist growth of local cells and support the body’s immune response.

Co-author Dr Marc Jeschke, medical director of the Ross Tilley Burn Centre at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto, said, “In this study, we tested whether the device could do this effectively by using it to treat full-thickness burns in pigs,” “We found the device successfully deposited the ‘skin sheets’ onto the wounds uniformly, safely and reliably.”


Nidhi Goyal

Nidhi is a gold medalist Post Graduate in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences.

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