3-D Print Skin Uses “Bio Ink”

The researchers turned living human skin cells into a liquid "bio ink." (RPI)

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.

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  1. Natural substitutes for skin, used for grafting, are human allograft (taken from another person) as well as autograft taken from the person who needs the graft. Pig skin zenograft with specially treated pig skin with has only the dermis layer. Pig skin is similar to human skin. Human amnion which comes from the membrane that covers the fetus inside a uterus and is very effective since it is at least made of human cells, and there is also something called Oasis wound matrix that is made from mucous cells that line the small intestine.

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