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Scientists Developed 3D Bioprinter That Can Print Human Skin

Update Date: Jan 25, 2017 09:30 AM EST

Biologists built the first of its kind, a 3D bioprinter that can produce a properly functional human skin. The research was published in the Journal Biofabrication. The demonstration showed how skin can be transplanted to patients. It can also be used for testing cosmetic or pharmaceutical products, which can finally bring an end to animal testing.

Independent reported the skin was made by researchers from Universidad Carlos III de Madrid's (UC3M), Center for Energy, Environmental and Technological Research (CIEMAT) and Hospital General Universitario Gregorio Marañón.

It "can be transplanted to patients or used in business settings to test chemical products, cosmetics or pharmaceutical products in quantities," said José Luis Jorcano, professor in UC3M's and head of the Mixed Unit CIEMAT/UC3M in Biomedical Engineering.

It is the first living human organ created. It has the capability of replicating the natural structure of the skin, complete with an external layer for protection, epidermis with stratum corneum deep layers and dermis. The last layer is a fibroblast that produces the collagen protein that gives the skin mechanical strength and elasticity.

Experts said instead of using cartridges and colored inks, they used bioink injectors composed of biological components. A computer controlled the bioinks and then deposited it on a print bed in a specific order to produce the skin. The bioinks were patented and licensed by CIEMAT and the BioDan Group.

There are two steps in producing the tissues. First is for industrial use, where they can mass-produce the allogeneic skin from a stock of cells. Second is the autologous skin that can be useful for transplants and treatments which has to be made from a patient's cell to avoid rejection from their own bodies.

According to Laboratory Equipment the research is in the phase of being approved. Various European regulatory agencies need to guarantee if this 3D-bioprinted skin can be used adequately for transplant on patients with burns and skin problems. It also aims for pharmaceutical and cosmetic product testing to end experiments on animals.

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