Mar 1, 2019 | By Thomas

In a breakthrough, Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine (WFIRM) scientists have created a mobile skin 3D bioprinting system that allows bi-layered skin to be printed directly into a wound. The team, which published their findings in Scientific Reports on Feb. 12, discovered that this type of treatment, which would use a patient’s own cells to “print” new skin, helping in the healing of large wounds or burns. Better yet, it is mobile which means it can be wheeled right to the bedside to treat wounds.

A close up view of the skin bioprinter nozzle. CREDIT: WFIRM

"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," said Sean Murphy, Ph.D., a WFIRM assistant professor who was lead author of the paper.

The team reports that the major skin cells - dermal fibroblasts and epidermal keratinocytes - can be easily isolated from a sample of the patient's uninjured tissue. Fibroblasts are cells that synthesize the extracellular matrix and collagen that play a critical role in wound healing while keratinocytes are the predominant cells found in the epidermis, the outermost layer of the skin.

The new technology is truly impressive. The researchers demonstrated proof-of-concept of the system by printing skin directly onto pre-clinical models. First, the ink made up of these cells and a hydrogel substrate is placed into the 3D bioprinter. Next, integrated imaging technology involving a device that scans the wound, feeds the data into the software to tell the print heads where to deliver cells layer-by-layer into the wound. The team found that this system replicates and accelerates the formation of normal skin structure and function.

A WFIRM technician operates the mobile bio printer for skin printing on a limb demo. CREDIT: WFIRM

The next step is to conduct a clinical trial in humans. While skin grafts are currently used to treat wounds and burns, adequate coverage of wounds is often a challenge particularly when there is limited availability of healthy skin to harvest. Skin grafts from donors are an option, but there is always the risk donor grafts will be rejected by the patient. And skin grafts also produces scars.

"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," said WFIRM Director Anthony Atala, M.D., and a co-author of the paper. "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."

With the WFIRM 3D bioprinter system the researchers could see new skin forming outward from the center of the wound and this only happened when the patient's own cells were used, because the tissues were accepted and not rejected.

"If you deliver the patient's own cells, they do actively contribute to wound healing by organizing up front to start the healing process much faster," said James Yoo, M.D., Ph. D, who led the research team and co-authored the paper. "While there are other types of wound healing products available to treat wounds and help them close, those products don't actually contribute directly to the creation of skin."



Posted in 3D Printer



Maybe you also like:


Montana wrote at 3/3/2019 1:53:31 PM:

I would love to know what they used as the hydrogel.. I'm working on a project with a bioprointer right now and we keep hitting dead ends when it comes to that.

fl1mflam wrote at 3/2/2019 7:20:28 PM:


Leave a comment:

Your Name:


Subscribe us to Feeds twitter facebook   

About provides the latest news about 3D printing technology and 3D printers. We are now seven years old and have around 1.5 million unique visitors per month.

News Archive