Imagine a day when a bio-printer filled with a patient's own cells can be transported to bed to heal large wounds or burns by printing skin by layer to begin the healing process. This day is not far away.
Scientists at the Wake Forest Institute (WFIRM) for Regenerative Medicine have created such a mobile skin bioprinting system – the first of its kind – to directly print bilayer skin on a wound.
"The unique aspect of this technology is the mobility of the system and the ability to manage extensive wounds on site by scanning and measuring them to deposit the cells directly where they are needed to create the skin." said Sean Murphy. Ph.D., assistant professor at WFIRM, lead author of the paper published this month in Nature & # 39; s Scientific reports newspaper.
Chronic, large or non-healing wounds, such as diabetic ulcers, affect millions of Americans because they often require multiple treatments. It is also estimated that burns account for 10 to 30% of combat casualties in the conventional war for military personnel.
The main skin cells – the dermis fibroblasts and the epidermal keratinocytes – are easily isolated from a small biopsy of uninjured tissue and are then expanded. Fibroblasts are cells that synthesize the extracellular matrix and collagen that play a critical role in wound healing, while keratinocytes are the predominant cells in the epidermis, the outermost layer of the skin.
The cells are mixed in a hydrogel and placed in the bio-printer. Integrated imaging technology including a device that analyzes the wound, introduces the data into the software to indicate to the print heads which cells deliver exactly, in the layer, layer by layer. This replicates and accelerates the formation of a normal structure and function of the skin.
The researchers demonstrated the proof of concept of the system by printing the skin directly on preclinical models.
The next step is to conduct a clinical trial in humans. Currently, skin grafts for treating wounds and burns are the "standard" technique, but adequate coverage of wounds is often a challenge, especially when the availability of healthy skin for harvest is limited. Donor skin grafts are an option, but may cause immune rejection of the graft and scar formation. With the WFIRM bioprinter system, researchers were able to see new skin form from the wound center and this only happened when the patient's own cells were used because tissues were accepted and not rejected.
"This technology could eliminate the need for painful skin grafts that cause further disfigurement to patients with major wounds or burns," said Anthony Atala, director of WFIRM, and co-author of the paper. "A mobile bioprinter capable of managing extensive wounds locally could help accelerate the delivery of care and reduce costs for patients."
"If you deliver the patient's own cells, they will actively contribute to wound healing by organizing the healing process well in advance," said James Yoo, MD, Ph.D., who led the research team and the co-author of the document. . "While there are other types of wound treatment products available to treat wounds and help them close, these products do not actually contribute to the creation of skin."
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Material provided by Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. Note: Content can be changed for style and length.