3D Skin Printer Helps Burn Victims

A prototype 3D skin printer effectively "prints out" skin right onto a wound. Developed at Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine, it covers wounds with healthy skin cells.


(3D skin printer for wound care)

During phase I of AFIRM, WFIRM scientists designed, built and tested a printer designed to print skin cells onto burn wounds. The "ink" is actually different kinds of skin cells. A scanner is used to determine wound size and depth. Different kinds of skin cells are found at different depths. This data guides the printer as it applies layers of the correct type of cells to cover the wound. You only need a patch of skin one-tenth the size of the burn to grow enough skin cells for skin printing.

During Phase II of AFIRM, the WFIRM team will explore whether a type of stem cell found in amniotic fluid and placenta (afterbirth) is effective at healing wounds. The goal of the project is to bring the technology to soldiers who need it within the next 5 years.

In his 1960 novel Dr. Futurity, Philip K. Dick wrote about art-derm, which was spray-on skin that could be directly applied to wounds.

Over her lacerated right shoulder he sprayed art-derm; it sealed off the open wound, halted bleeding, and prohibited infection.
(Read more about art-derm)

This bioprinter reminds me of what appears to be a similar device from the 1997 movie Starship Troopers, which is loosely based on the 1959 Robert Heinlein novel of the same name.


(Starship Troopers medical tank)

Via Wakeforest; their article has a slightly different video.

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