Hot Off the Presses, New Skin for Burn Victims

February 22, 2011 | Source: Science Now

Using skin cells as ink and a human body as paper, James Yoo of Wake Forest University School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, North Carolina has designed a printer that can analyze a burn. First, it uses a laser scanner to determine the exact size and shape of the lesion. Then it creates a 3D reconstruction. Finally, it prints the layers of different cells needed — all in less than an hour.

Although the bioprinted skin might not be a permanent fix for severe burns, the technology is portable enough to bring to a battlefield and fast enough to prevent the loss of precious bodily fluids.

Cornell University engineer Hod Lipson has developed a similar bioprinting technology using a 3D printer to print cells, layer upon layer, into a 3D structure. Printing organs rather than growing them as cells on a scaffold, he says, is a better way to entice blood vessels to grow into the center of an organ, which is one of the major difficulties in current regenerative biology. His bioprinter could print them right in, although integrating the organ into a body is another challenge, he said.