Scientists at Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine (WFIRM) in North Carolina have developed a mobile bioprinter that can print skin cells to treat wounds such as burns and diabetic ulcers. The patient’s own dermal fibroblasts and epidermal keratinocytes skin cells are mixed with a hydrogel to create the printable biomaterial, then the mobile bioprinter scans the wound with integrated imaging technology. That data is fed into the software to direct the print heads as to the exact location in the wound and to tell it which cells to deliver. The researchers printed skin directly onto pre-clinical models and could see new skin forming outwards from the centre of the wound.
Lead author Sean Murphy, a WFIRM assistant professor, said: “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.”
“First mobile bioprinter could replace skin grafts“
Co-author and WFIRM director, Anthony Atala, said: “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. 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.”