The idea to print human skin in large volumes to treat extensive damage dates back to 2014. Initially, it was planned to simply establish the process of obtaining skin in unlimited quantities, so that doctors could cut off suitable fragments and transplant them. But now the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine has developed a 3D printer that prints missing skin directly onto a wound using the patient's own cells.
It all starts with a biopsy to obtain skin samples from a specific person, which are guaranteed to take root after the transplant, without any risk of rejection. The operation requires fibroblasts, cells that help build the structure for wound healing, and keratinocytes, the basic cells of the outer layer of the skin. Samples are placed in a nutrient medium and an arbitrary number of cells are grown, which are then mixed with the hydrogel.
The resulting mixture is "ink", a working material for a 3D bioprinter. Before printing, a three-dimensional laser scan of the wound is performed, its topology is studied. This is necessary for the machine to correctly position the layers of fibroblasts and keratinocytes, plus it allows the device to consume exactly as much material as is needed to completely close the wound. There is no overspending of cells, and therefore there are no scars, no traces of the operation remain, everything grows together as it was originally, before the injury.
Tests of the technology on laboratory mice were successful, although they made adjustments to the concept of treatment. In fact, this technique significantly accelerates wound healing, accelerates the formation of the skin by adding ready-made cells instead of their long-term growth by the body itself. But first you need to heal the wound, fix the problem that caused it, and then close the damaged area. All this will require new research and tests - however, now they will already be carried out in humans.