A handheld bioprinter from Canada will heal wounds with living skin

Four years ago, it became known about the creation of a microwave-sized 3D printer capable of printing skin grafts for the treatment of burns. Part of the development team continued their research, with the result that a portable device was recently created that prints artificial skin directly at the site of burns.

A team of researchers from the University of Toronto led by Navid Hakimi and Axel Gunther have created a shoebox-sized gadget. The mechanism of its work resembles an adhesive tape dispenser, however, instead of it it gives out strips of fabric based on alginate (extract from seaweed kelp).

On the underside of each strip is bio-ink, which contains skin cells and collagen, a protein that forms the basis of connective tissue and provides its elasticity and strength. It is the strongest protein in the skin and plays an important role in wound healing.

Weighing less than a kilogram, the device covers the wound with a printed graft in two minutes without any special preliminary preparation. The effectiveness of its work has been confirmed in the course of experiments on rats and pigs.

Now scientists are planning to increase the size of the graft. This will allow the treatment of more extensive wounds and in the not too distant future will provide an opportunity to begin clinical trials in humans.