When it comes to skin transplants, it would be great to custom 3D printing permanent skin transplants instead of getting them from the patient’s own body, according to foreign media reports. Now people are getting closer to this goal because scientists have now biologically printed complete vasoactive skin.
First of all, there are already commercial custom 3D printing biological skin grafts made of living cells. However, these are usually intended only to be used as temporary wound coverings because they lack the vascular system that causes blood to flow into the patient’s body. As a result, the graft eventually failed to work, shedding from the patient’s own skin.
To overcome this limitation, a team at Rensler University of Technology initially produced so-called “biological ink” by mixing two types of living cells. Although they still lack a vascular system, they are customized for 3D printing as skin-like structures.
Recently, they worked with researchers at Yale University to add some “key elements” to the biological ink. These elements include human endothelial cells arranged inside blood vessels and pericytes wrapped around endothelial cells. These are combined with ingredients (such as animal collagen and other structural cells) that are usually found in biologically printed skin grafts.
Within weeks, the skin blood vessels printed with new biological ink began to grow. When these pieces of skin were transplanted to the wounds of mice, the animal’s blood vessels began to connect with the blood vessels in the biologically printed skin, causing the graft to fill with blood four weeks later.
The “This is important because we know that there is actually blood and nutrient transfer to the graft, which keeps the graft in life,” study director, associate professor, Pankaj Krande, said that the researchers needed to develop a method of “edit” donor cells so that the graft would not be repelled by the body of the recipient.