Researchers at Wake Forest have coupled the functionality of an office inkjet printer with advanced biotechnology to create a medical process that involves “printing” skin cells directly on burn victims’ wounds.
So far, they have only tested the new technology, called bioprinting, on mice, but it has already shown promising results. Wounds that took five weeks to heal without treatment closed in two weeks with bioprinting.
The team will soon appeal to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to test on humans s and are working with the U.S. Armed Forces Institute of Regenerative Medicine for possible battlefield application, according to Reuters.
Researchers say bioprinting could be an alternative to skin grafts for burn victims, which often leave lasting scars.
The “ink” used in the bioprinter is a mix of purified skin cell types, including fibroblasts and keratinocytes, kept in a nutritious solution. The bioprinter then applies cells similar to the way an inkjet applies ink, one layer at a time.