Today’s Solutions: March 01, 2024

When it comes to skin transplants, there are several challenges that affect the success of these complex surgical operations. On top of a lack of harvest organ availability, there is also the risk that the donor skin graft will be rejected by the patient. What’s more, skin grafts may require multiple surgical procedures and often result in scarring.

Fortunately, a recent breakthrough from the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine (WFIRM) points to a future where bioprinters solve most of these problems and make the need for donor skin a thing of the past.

“The unique aspect of this technology is the mobility of the system and the ability to provide on-site management of extensive wounds by scanning and measuring them in order to deposit the cells directly where they are needed to create skin,” said Sean Murphy, assistant professor at WFIRM.

What’s particularly attractive about these devices is that they would use the patient’s own cells, thus eliminating the risk of the skin being rejected. Blending the cells together with a hydrogel, the machine would then proceed to print bi-layered skin onto a wound, essentially mimicking skin’s natural healing process, but at a much faster rate.

“The technology has the potential to eliminate the need for painful skin grafts that cause further disfigurement for patients suffering from large wounds or burns,” said WFIRM Director Anthony Atala, co-author of the paper.

The bioprinter is still in its trial phase, so the researchers are now evaluating its long-term function to ensure the bioprinted tissue will hold up outside the lab.

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