3-D printers are the latest trend that has numerous applications in many fields. For example, many companies throughout the world are using 3-D printers to grow the complex tissues and organs of the human body.
There have been successful attempts in creating human ear and 3-D printing bone tissue.
One of the biggest complications of making human body parts with 3-D printing is not only replicating the complex structures but also confirming that they survive transplantation in a living body.
Scientists in Spain have developed 3-D printing that can produce human skin that can be transplanted into patients’ cosmetic engineering and even drug testing as well.
The plasma-based, two-layered skin produced by the printer has been used to treat burns and other wounds in a large number of patients.
But this method can take almost three weeks to produce the amount of skin that is required to cover a large wound or even extensive burn. But most of the drawbacks are caused manually. Recent studies have reported how 3-D bioprinters are generating a large area of skin (up to 100 x 100 cm) within 35 minutes.
The 3D printer uses biological components instead of using a cartridge of colored inks, which is usually associated with normal printing. Researchers say that these bio-inks are the key to successful 3-D printing of human organs and tissue.
With existing plasma-based, these 3D bioprinters develop two layers of skin, which are epidermis and dermis. First, it prints the epidermis, which includes the protective outermost layer, which comprises keratinized cells. Then, it prints thicker dermis and is completed with fibroblasts that make collagen (the protein which gives skin its strength and elasticity).
The most important part is knowing how to mix the biological components, in what conditions to work with them so that the cells don’t deteriorate, and how to deposit the product correctly, says one of the researchers Juan Francisco del Cañizo.
A computer is used for controlling the bioprinting process to precisely deposit the bio-inks on a print bed to make the skin.
The researchers had carried out two types of tests on the skin in which one in test tubes and the other was to test for more long-term effects in a living animal even after transplantation into immunodeficient mice. The result was that in both cases, the generated skin was very similar to human skin, and it was indistinguishable from bilayered dermo-epidermal equivalents, handmade in our laboratories.
The team sees two applications for the new technique. One is to produce non-person-specific skin from a stock of cells on a large scale for research and laboratory-testing of cosmetics and drugs. The other is to produce person-specific skin using cells from individual patients to treat burns and other wounds.
The 3-D bioprinter only uses human components to produce active skin that makes its human collagen. The researchers note that, unlike other methods, it does not use animal collagen.
The bio-inks used in the study are patented by the Center for Energy, Environmental and Technological Research (CIEMAT) in Madrid. It is licensed to the BioDan Group, a private Spanish bioengineering firm that is commercializing the technology.