A team of Canadian scientists has developed a new form of technology – a portable 3D skin printer – that can heal deep wounds in minutes by evenly printing layers of skin tissue over it.
According to a press release from the University of Toronto, the newly developed 3D printer could work for patients with severe skin sores, in which all three layers (epidermis, dermis, hypodermis) are severely damaged. Once used on an injured patient, the printer reportedly takes two minutes or less to form new tissue and deposit it on the wound. The researchers recently published a paper on the new device in the journal Lab on a Chip
Currently, physicians use split-thickness skin grafting as their usual technique for treating such deep wounds as doctors do to take healthy skin from donors and transplant them to the affected area. Unfortunately, this technique does not always work with patients, as larger wounds require more donor skin to cover all layers. It is more common that such amounts of skin are unavailable, resulting in "poor healing results" due to the portions of the injured skin that remain uncovered.
In a statement, Professor Axel Guenther of the University of Toronto, who worked on the 3D skin printer, said that there are similar solutions currently, though most of them come with more than their fair share of drawbacks.
"Most current 3D bioprecorders are bulky, operate at low speeds, are expensive, and are not compatible with clinical application."
Scientists Invent 3D Handheld Skin Printers That Can Heal Deep Wounds This does not seem like Case for the University of Toronto designed 3D skin printer, which is about as small as a shoebox and has similar features as a white-out tape dispenser. At less than a kilogram (2.2 pounds), the printer is also unusually lightweight, especially when compared to the above-mentioned 3D printing solutions. Instead of tape, the device delivers layers of alginate-based tissue with strips of biotin containing skin cells, collagen, and fibrin on the underside of the tissue sheets, according to New Atlas.
Senior researcher Navid Hakimi, a graduate student at the University of Toronto, believes the printer's features could make it possible to treat a wide range of patients with different types of wounds.
In the future, the researchers hope to add more features to the 3D skin printer and improve his abilities, which could mean widening the size of the wounds that could be treated. At the moment, the printer has yet to be tested on human patients, but the University of Toronto press release noted that researchers have planned this for the future as they also hope to "revolutionize burn care"