A team from Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine (WFIRM) have created first of its kind mobile bedside bioprinter that can treat wound by printing bi-layered skin directly into the wounds.
For the process, major skin cells, called dermal fibroblasts and epidermal keratinocytes, are isolated from a small biopsy of uninjured tissue and expanded. The cells are then mixed into a hydrogel and placed in the bioprinter.
Then an integrated imaging technology is used that involves a device that scans the wound, feeds the data into the software to tell the print heads which cells to deliver exactly where in the wound layer by layer. This replicates and accelerates the formation of normal skin structure and function.
“If you deliver the patient’s own cells, they do actively contribute to wound healing by organizing up front to start the healing process much faster,” said co-author James Yoo.
The technique was demonstrated as proof-of-concept by printing skin directly onto pre-clinical models. Now, the team aims to carry out clinical trials in humans.
“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 co-author Anthony Atala.
“A mobile bioprinter that can provide on-site management of extensive wounds could help to accelerate the delivery of care and decrease costs for patients,” he added.