Scientists print living skin with blood vessels
Washington : Scientists have 3D-printed a living human skin complete with blood vessels, in an advancements which they believe could cure the issues of bodies rejecting grafting.
The team of researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York and Yale School of Medicine combined cells found in human blood vessels with other ingredients including animal collagen, and printed a skin-like material.
A couple of weeks later, the cells started to form into vasculature. The skin was then grafted onto a mouse, and was found to connect with the animal's vessels.
Pankaj Karande, an associate professor of chemical and biological engineering at Rensselaer who led the research, said in a statement: "That's extremely important, because we know there is actually a transfer of blood and nutrients to the graft which is keeping the graft alive."
Karande explained: "Right now, whatever is available as a clinical product is more like a fancy Band-Aid. It provides some accelerated wound healing, but eventually it just falls off; it never really integrates with the host cells."
Next, the team will look into editing the skin cells using CRISPR technology, so they match up with the recipient's and are less likely to be rejected by their body. Karande hopes the technology will soon help people with pressure ulcers, or diabetics whose wounds can heal slowly.
"For those patients, these would be perfect, because ulcers usually appear at distinct locations on the body and can be addressed with smaller pieces of skin," he said.
The printing of the new skin has been made possible with the help of latest 3D printing technology. In May, a separate team of scientists brought the prospect of 3D-printed internal organs a step closer, by creating a complex tangle of vessels in a lung-like structure.