Health Editor’s Note: The human body does not work will with its protective covering of skin. So far we have only two ways to cover burns or wounds. One is an autologous graft which uses skin from the person and causes another wound in the area of the body from where the skin has been harvested. The other is using artificial skin from which does not look like skin and may not be able to cover a large surface. 3-D print skin looks like skin and is able to grow its own blood vessels. So far this has only been used successfully on mice and there are still some issues to address such as getting the correct skin color and removing the possibility of rejection. In mice, within four weeks, the graft has developed its own blood vessel system which means it will remain viable due to the fact that the “skin” is receiving oxygenated blood. More work needs to be done, but hopefully there will be a better way to treat those who need a replacement for skin, such as burn victims…..Carol
Scientists 3-D Print Skin That Develops Working Blood Vessels
by Emily Matchar/Smithsonian.com
Creating a durable, natural-looking skin substitute to cover burn injuries or other wounds has been a bioengineer’s holy grail for decades. Now, we may be much closer, thanks to a new technique for 3-D printing skin complete with working blood vessels.
The research, done at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) and Yale University, uses living human skin cells turned into a liquid “bio ink.” The bio ink is used to print artificial skin, which then grows its own blood vessel system.
“The vasculature is very important because that’s how the host and the graft talk to each other,” says Pankaj Karande, a professor of chemical and biological engineering at RPI, who led the research. “Communication between host and graft is critical if the skin substitute is not to be rejected by the body.”
Currently, patients in need of skin grafts have two options. First, there are autologous skin grafts, where doctors shave off a piece of healthy skin to cover the damaged area. Second are artificial skin products made from materials ranging from bovine collagen to polymer foam. Both have disadvantages. Autologous skin grafts are painful and create a new wound.