One of the most promising applications of bioprinting is that of printing skin for medical conditions and research. While devices for printing skin cells have made leaps and bounds in recent years, there is one aspect they lack. Researchers have long been trying to produce cells that match the proper structure of the genuine article. This often comes down to the layering. However, Philadelphia-based company Allevi are looking to capture the authenticity of human skin and its biological functions with their new bioink kit.
Skin printing and 2D prints can match a variety of medical purposes, like treating burns, diabetic ulcers, and cancer resections. However, this can be especially tricky to get right, since human skin comprises several layers which are constantly changing, replacing the outside layers with inner ones. The epidermis cells make way for the newer cells, i.e. the dermis. Capturing this process severely improves the fidelity of any skin replacement.
According to Allevia:
“The bioinks we offer have been thoroughly tested by us, academia, and the tissue engineering industry as a whole, and have been proven to yield the best biological results. These are materials you are used to, such as collagen and hyaluronic acid. No need to start from scratch.”
Printing Multi-layered Skin
The layers of the prints include and encapsulate keratinocyte, fibroblast, and melanocyte cells. This mixture uses low concentrations of pure collagen and can print at 4 °C. In the company’s comparison to other skin methods, their work appears far more detailed in texture. However, calling the skin layered is not to say that it comes off looking thick in the print. On the contrary, even with the added layers, there is a transparency to the print that indicates a very high resolution.
Allevi, who previously went by the name BioBots, specialise in the field of 3D printing tissue. The company’s latest kit can work with any of their 3D printers. It comes with various tools including an Allevi printing dish, 10 ml of Advanced BioMatrix pure collagen, 500 µL of neutralization solution, a 5 mL sterile syringe, layering tips and a syringe coupler.
Allevi are selling the kit for $399 on their online shop. They also provide the bioink in both pure and methcrylated collagen. Although the use of skin printing is far from ubiquitous, the improvements in the technology are bringing them closer to mass implementation every day.
Featured image courtesy of Allevi.