Our skin, the body’s largest organ, has remarkable self-regeneration abilities. However, there are limits, especially for those with severe burns or inherited skin disorders. Scientists have long sought to replicate skin in labs, and a recent advancement from Wake Forest University highlights significant progress in this domain.
The team has used a combination of six human skin cell types as bioink to fabricate a three-layered artificial skin. Notably, this version more accurately reflected human skin’s architecture. Upon transplantation into mice and pigs with skin injuries, this bioprinted skin showed quick integration with host blood vessels.
Moreover, it played a crucial role in structuring collagen in a way that resembled natural skin, critical for wound healing and minimizing scars. The term “full thickness skin” describes the intricate multi-layered structure of our skin. Reproducing this in a lab is challenging, but 3D bioprinting offers a promising approach.
“These results show that the creation of full thickness human bioengineered skin is possible, and promotes quicker healing and more naturally appearing outcomes,” said study author Dr. Anthony Atala.
“Comprehensive skin healing is a significant clinical challenge, affecting millions of individuals worldwide, with limited options.”
Atala and his team have previously ventured into bioprinting, even developing a skin bioprinter. This recent study expanded on previous work by using six cell types to capture skin’s intricate structure. Using a method called 3D-extrusion printing, the team successfully printed this skin, maintaining its integrity for over 52 days in a lab environment.
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