New 3D Printed Skin to Treat Severe Burns
Canadian scientists from the University of Toronto announced, two years ago, the development of a portable device that prints sheets of artificial skin directly over burns. Today, they are so close to apply their innovation on humans and provide it in clinics to treat burns.
The researchers published last week the results of their recent successful experiments on pigs in the journal Biofabrication.
During their experiments on mice in 2018, Senior Author Axel Günther told the Smithsonian Magazine: "The device prints 3D layers of skin on areas of burns and wounds within just two minutes."
Preclinical trials are usually performed on pigs because of the great similarity in their anatomical composition with humans, and the success of the experiment in pigs is a strong indicator on its success in humans.
The traditional method used in treating burns involves removing the damaged tissue and replacing it with healthy skin from another part of the body. But, this method also known as "graft" isn't a viable option when it comes to severe burns that affect inner tissues.
The new device eliminates the need for grafts altogether by depositing strips of a special bioink on burns. The bioink contains living cells and healing proteins that assist the body's immune system and encourage new cell growth.
According to a report published by the Sciencealert website on Sunday, the results of the new experiment conducted by the research team on pigs were very positive, as the device managed to replace the skin that was lost in deep burns with alternative new skin.
The report quoted co-author Marc Jeschke saying: "We found the device successfully deposited the 'skin sheets' onto the wounds uniformly, safely and reliably, and the sheets stayed in place with only very minimal movement."
"Most significantly, our results showed that the treated wounds healed extremely well with a reduction in inflammation, scarring, and contraction compared with the untreated wounds," he explained.
The team is one step closer to actual use in burn clinics, especially after the promising results of its latest trial on pigs, said Jeschke.