We had written about 3D printers a while ago but did you know that researchers have now discovered a way to print living skin? Complete with blood vessels and biological tissue? Scientists at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute announced that they have discovered a way to 3D print skin. The study was published in the Tissue Engineering Part A. The discovery can lead to treatments that will help diabetic injury victims, who usually need skin grafts.
How are the 3D printed skin grafts different?
Pankaj Karande, who led the research said that currently the grafts that are available are like bandaids and they allow for accelerated wound healing but usually fall off. They cannot integrate with the host cells/. The new 3D printed skin can actually integrate with existing skin and help speed up the healing process. Many skin grafts fail because they do not have a functioning vascular system. 3D bioprinting is going to get really big in the future and will have a positive impact on wound healing and other kinds of treatments.
However, the current 3D printed skin is still not able to edit donor cells and there is a risk of the skin not being accepted by the patient’s body. The grafts that Karande’s team is working on can help diabetic and other patients, who often need discrete grafts. Severe burn victims may still not benefit from these 3D printed grafts. It remains to be seen when this technology will be available in the medical market, as there are a lot of people who need treatments such as this one.
Here are the clinical applications
- People who need discrete grafts may benefit from these grafts
- The grafts may help hasten the process of wound healing
- Burn victims may not benefit as these grafts only work on limited areas
- DNA editing is still not possible and there is a risk of the grafts being rejected by the patient’s body
- The 3D printed skin grafts are not available commercially at the moment
The wait may be long
If you are a victim of diabetic injury or some other sort of discrete injury, you will not be able to use this technology right away. However, this can be viewed as a step in the right direction, in terms of 3D printing technology. As an ode to 3D printed skin grafts, you might want to purchase a regular 3D printer for fun.