A team of Spanish researchers has just completed the prototype of a bioimpresora 3D capable of printing human skin fully functional. The device will not only treat serious burns, but avoid testing cosmetic and pharmaceutical animals.
The device and technique of printing is the work of scientists from the Carlos III University of Madrid, CIEMAT (Centro de Investigaciones Energéticas, Medioambientales y Tecnológicas) and the Hospital General Universitario Gregorio Marañón, and their study has just been published in the journal Biofabrication.
The key of this printer is the feedstock, a product which the researchers called biotintas and that is capable of replicating to perfection the different layers of the skin. In the words of John Francis Reed, a researcher at the Hospital General Universitario Gregorio Marañón and Complutense University of Madrid:
The critical part of the system is to know how to mix the biological components, in what conditions to use them to not deteriorate the cells and how to perform the deposition proper.
The production process of this skin has the peculiarity that the resulting tissue is able to generate its own collagen instead of using collagen of animal origin. The device replicates the natural structure of the skin, with a first outer layer, the epidermis that protects against the outer environment, and another more deep and thick, the dermis. This last layer is composed of fibroblasts. These cells produce collagen, the protein that provides elasticity and mechanical strength to the skin.
The printer can print skin generic be used, for example, in laboratories cosmetics to try out new products. It is also possible to print skin cells from a particular patient to create custom patches with which to treat serious burns.
Currently, the printer is waiting to receive the approval of the regulatory bodies at european level to ensure that the skin produced is suitable for use in transplants to patients with burns and other skin problems. [Biofabrication via Carlos III University]