3D bio printer prints new skin directly over severe burns
A team of researchers in Canada has successfully tested a new portable 3D bio printer that treats severe burns by printing new skin tissue directly over a wound.
Although the new system is still at an early stage of development, it could ultimately offer a way to treat patients whose burn injuries are too extensive to allow skin grafts.
Leading author Professor Axel Günther from the University of Toronto said: “Skin grafts that remove the damaged tissue and replace it with skin from another part of the patient's body are a standard treatment for severe burns.
“In cases where a patient has very severe burns, there isn't always enough healthy skin left to use.
“There are alternatives – including cell carriers from bovine collagen or skin substitutes grown in vitro – but none are ideal. The preparation of skin replacement grown in vitro can take many weeks and is difficult to use successfully in a patient with a large burn area.
To overcome these challenges, the research team developed a 3D bio printer that can be used to lay layers of skin tissue directly over wounds of any size, shape or topography. A bioink is used that is based on fibrin – a protein involved in blood clotting – and is infused with mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) that support the growth of local cells and the body's immune response. This bio ink is printed directly from the device's soft roll onto the wound.
Co-author Dr. Marc Jeschke, medical director of the Ross Tilley Burn Center at the Sunnybrook Health Sciences Center in Toronto, said: “In general, the wound surfaces for which we designed this device are neither flat nor horizontal. One of the main advantages of the device is that it should allow a Bioink layer to be deposited evenly on inclined surfaces. ”
“In this study, we tested whether the device could do this effectively by treating full thickness burns in pigs. We found that the device successfully and evenly, safely and reliably applied the “skin layers” to the wounds, and the leaves remained in place with very little movement.
“Most importantly, our results showed that MSC-treated wounds healed extremely well, with a reduction in inflammation, scarring, and contraction compared to both the untreated and collagen-treated wounds.
Professor Günther said: “We are very happy about this successful test. In addition to the excellent healing results, we have shown that the device offers a user-friendly method for the safe administration of cells and biomaterial. More studies are needed, but the signs are promising and the potential clinical uses of the device go well beyond burn injuries. ”
The results were reported today in the IOP publishing magazine Biofabrication.
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