This 3D Skin Printer Helps Heal Wounds and Burns

Researchers at Wake Forest have developed a printer than uses skin cells instead of ink. This incredible invention could be the answer to treating severe burns.
Jessica Miley

The ability for humans to regrow skin after serious burns has been the ultimate goal of research scientists for many years. But researchers at Wake Forest have created a skin printing machine that may solve the problem. The 3D printer literally prints skin onto deep wounds and burns. It works by layering healthy skin over damaged skin.

Trials completed on mice and pigs show that they recover from their injuries three times faster than without the treatment. Third-degree burns are a critical care problem and require a lot of medical resources to deal with extreme cases. When a victim suffers severe burns the priorities of treatment are on stabilizing the patient, preventing infection, and optimizing functional recovery. The damage done often requires lifelong rehabilitation due to the way skin heals after burns that prevent the growth of sweat glands and hair follicles.

This new treatment could massively increase the survival rate of patients as well as minimize excessive scarring. The printer works by first scanning the damaged area and assessing what type of skin cells are required where. Skin cells are then added to the ‘printer’ and these are added in layers to the required areas. Researchers say you only need “a patch of skin one-tenth the size of the burn to grow enough skin cells for skin printing.” The research team hopes the project will be in hospitals as a viable treatment option within five years.

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