Having a deep wound or burn often damages all the skin layers, which can be treated by a technique called split-thickness skin grafting. This process is pretty expensive as healthy donor skin is needed, which is rarely available when the wound is too large. This leaves a portion of the wounded area uncovered, leading to poor healing.
Researchers of the University of Toronto may have a solution for this. They have developed a handheld skin printer, which deposits skin directly into patients’ wounds. According to the research team, this is the first device, which can form tissue, depositing and setting it in-situ, within two minutes or less.
Unlike traditional bioprinters, this skin printer isn’t bulky. Weighs just less than a kilogram, this device can be used like a white tape dispenser we normally use to correct writing error. Instead of tapes, the device dispenses stripes of bio-ink, made up of collagen, the most common dermis protein, and fibrin, the protein associated with healing, directly to the untreated parts of the wound.
“Our skin printer promises to tailor tissues to specific patients and wound characteristics,” said Ph.D. student Navid Hakimi, who led the research under the supervision of Associate Professor Axel Guenther.
Their research was recently published in the journal Lab on a Chip. Like the other 3D skin printing solutions, the U of T team hasn’t yet tested this prototype device on a human. However, they have tested it on pigs, hoping to eventually test it on humans. We can hope that in future, this handheld skin printer can put a revolutionary impact on the wound and burn treatments.