Scientists Work on Printing Skin Through 3D Process: Would Revolutionize Skin Grafts

Skin grafts come in two varieties, painful and temporary.  If you suffer severe burns or some other injury that requires new skin, your options are limited and bad.  But that might be changing.

According to Smithsonian Magazine, researchers from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) and Yale University have developed a new way to 3D “print” skin with a vascular structure that will connect to the host’s tissue.

The magazine reported:

The RPI and Yale team’s new grafts are made with bio ink containing cells from infant foreskin, human endothelial cells from umbilical cord blood, human endothelial colony forming cells, and human placental pericytes from placenta tissue, all suspended in collagen from rat tails. This forms the inner layer of the skin, the dermis. A second bio ink, made from another type of human foreskin cells, keratinocytes, is printed on top to form the outer layer of the skin, the epidermis. Then, in the petri dish, endothelial cells and the placental pericytes begin to assemble themselves into tiny vascular networks.
The new process, called bio-printing, is a long way from use in humans, but it’s a step. If it becomes available for people, the process will replace the painful skin graft procedure in use today, where doctors essentially scrape a piece of skin from one part of the body to replace missing skin in another.  The process creates a new wound, and is terribly painful.

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