Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine (WFIRM) scientists have created a mobile skin bioprinting system that allows bi-layered skin to be printed directly into wounds such as pressure ulcers or burns. A study describing the system was published recently in Scientific Reports.
The bioprinter is designed to be wheeled to the patient’s bedside and print layers of skin, using a patient’s own cells, to begin the healing process.
“The unique aspect of this technology is the mobility of the system and the ability to provide on-site management of extensive wounds by scanning and measuring them in order to deposit the cells directly where they are needed to create skin,” says Sean Murphy, PhD, a WFIRM assistant professor and the study’s lead author.
The major skin cells — dermal fibroblasts and epidermal keratinocytes — are easily isolated from a small biopsy of uninjured tissue and expanded. The cells are then mixed into a hydrogel and placed into the bioprinter. Integrated imaging technology involving a device scans the wound and feeds the data into the software to tell the print heads which cells to deliver exactly where in the wound layer by layer. Doing so replicates and accelerates the formation of normal skin structure and function, a media release from Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center explains.
The researchers demonstrated proof-of-concept of the system by printing skin directly onto pre-clinical models. The next step is to conduct a clinical trial in humans, they note.
Currently, skin grafts to treat wounds and burns are the “gold standard” technique, but adequate coverage of wounds is often a challenge particularly when there is limited availability of healthy skin to harvest. Skin grafts from donors are an option, but risk immune rejection of the graft and scar formation. With the WFIRM bioprinter system the researchers could see new skin forming outward from the center of the wound and this only happened when the patient’s own cells were used, because the tissues were accepted and not rejected, the release explains.
“The technology has the potential to eliminate the need for painful skin grafts that cause further disfigurement for patients suffering from large wounds or burns,” says WFIRM Director Anthony Atala, MD, and a co-author of the study. “A mobile bioprinter that can provide on-site management of extensive wounds could help to accelerate the delivery of care and decrease costs for patients.”
“If you deliver the patient’s own cells, they do actively contribute to wound healing by organizing up front to start the healing process much faster,” adds James Yoo, MD, PhD, who led the research team and co-authored the paper.
“While there are other types of wound healing products available to treat wounds and help them close, those products don’t actually contribute directly to the creation of skin.”
[Source(s): Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, Science Daily]