May.16, 2013

Many burn victims cannot be accurately treated with current therapies, since the amount and quality of human skin produced by current techniques is insufficient. In most cases the body can heal itself remarkably well but when patients suffer extreme skin loss such as burns or skin diseases then only tissue engineered skin can help. Therefore improvement of human skin production is desperately needed.

Four students from Leiden University in the Netherlands have come up a striking concept: SkinPrint. "SkinPrint will solve this major issue by producing human skin with a 3D Bioprinter." Notes the team.

SkinPrint will combine the 3D Bioprinter with the advanced technology of induced Pluripotent Stem Cell (iPS) which enables the creation of stem cells from specialized cells, such as hair or skin cells. "We just take a small piece of healthy human skin away from patient with burns injuries." says team leader Ingmar van Hengel. These cells are then used to develop stem cells which will serve as the ink for the bioprinter. The printed cells will eventually form all the layers of the skin. Because the induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) are developed from a patient's own somatic cells, it was believed that treatment of iPSCs would avoid any immunogenic responses.

The idea of SkinPrint won the Digital Award of the Philips Innovation Award - the largest student entrepreneurs award in the Netherlands Tuesday evening in Rotterdam.

"SkinPrint is a revolution in medicine care, "says team leader Ingmar van Hengel. "The incorporation of iPS technology with the 3D Bioprinter will speed up the skin production process and improve quality of the skin."

In order to print human skin the team must obtain a Certification mark from the European Medicines Agency. Van Hengel: "Therefore we need to prove that this method is safe. Fortunately, we work with the Swiss Professor Ernst Reichmann, an expert in the field of skin. With his help, I think within five years hospitals should be able to make 3D printed human skin."

SkinPrint aims to improve treatment for patients of burns injuries, skin cancer or other skin diseases. Moreover they hope one day they will be able to take the next step and print more complex organs such as kidney or liver.



Posted in 3D Printing Applications



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