Scientists Create Skin Printing System for Accelerated Wound Healing
Researchers in the U.S. have reported a new technology that could help speed up the healing of large wounds in a more convenient manner.
Skin bioprinting is a novel approach in skin tissue engineering that has been gaining attention in recent years. It creates artificial skin for a variety of purposes, including transplantation and skin formulation development.
Now, researchers at the Wake Forest Institute of Regenerative Medicine in Winston-Salem, NC have announced a new system that will make the treatment of wounds and burns faster than ever before.
The scientists reported this new handheld system in a paper that appeared in the Journal Scientific Reports.
A faster way to heal chronic wounds
It is said that millions of people in the United States battle with chronic wounds that do not heal easily. These include burn injuries and pressure ulcers due to diabetes.
Ideally, a wound should take no more than six weeks to heal. It is considered chronic when healing does not happen within that time.
There are a variety of options to try to tackle chronic wounds. The efficacy and how long it takes for healing to occur differ among them.
Researchers who developed this new mobile skin printing technology seem to think that it will offer faster means of promoting healing. This is because of how it helped to facilitate normal skin structure as well as function.
The system helps to print the human skin layer by layer for covering large, open wounds.
“If you deliver the patient’s cells, they do actively contribute to the wound healing process much faster,” said Dr. James Yoo, the team lead.
The treatment process
The procedure for printing skin begins with the harvesting of major cells from the patient’s skin tissue. Specifically, dermal fibroblasts and epidermal keratinocytes are obtained. These are crucial for skin layer formation and natural wound healing.
Scientists then expand the cells and mix them with a hydrogel before placing in the bioprinter. Next, the wound is scanned using a built-in imaging technology to determine where printed skin layers would go.
The printed skin will reportedly match the areas of a patient’s wound where it is required. This eliminates the inconvenience and discomfort of skin grafting.
The procedure can help to speed up the natural skin formation for faster wound healing. It can also help to restore skin function in the treated areas.
One standout feature of the new skin printer is that it is highly mobile. It is portable so moving it from one place to the other is very easy.
“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 a new skin,” lead author and WFIRM assistant professor Sean Murphy said.
Other treatment options for burns and wounds don’t promote skin creation as this technology does, Yoo said.
There is a plan by the researches to conduct a human clinical trial to better assess how the mobile skin printing system can be beneficial.