Engineers from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have used a technique called, ‘3D bio printing’. After a while, cells started to build vasculature structures and communicate with each other when the bioinks, endothelial cells and pericyte cells were added and printed into the skin grafts.
An Associate Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering at Rensselaer, Pankaj Karande, stated: “As engineers working to recreate biology, we’ve always appreciated and been aware of the fact that biology is far more complex than the simple systems we make in the lab. We were pleasantly surprised to find that, once we start approaching that complexity, biology takes over and starts getting closer and closer to what exists in nature While 3D printed skin has previously been created, until now it has lacked the complex blood vessel systems that are vital for skin grafts to integrate with the body. As such, the lifespan of these bio-printed grafts has been limited. Right now, whatever is available as a clinical product is more like a fancy Band-Aid. It provides some accelerated wound healing, but eventually it just falls off, it never really integrates with the host cells.”
“Fusion of blood vessels into a 3D printed skin to create bio-printed skin grafts. “
In order for the technology to meet clinical standards, researchers will need to edit the donor cells so that vessels can be placed into the patient. If this is achieved, it could mean that custom grafts can be developed for diabetes, pressure ulcers and burns. Karande went onto state: “For those patients, these would be perfect, because ulcers usually appear at distinct locations on the body and can be addressed with smaller pieces of skin. Wound healing typically takes longer in diabetic patients, and this could also help to accelerate that process.”