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Printed skin cells to treat burns

Printed skin cells to treat burns

Posting in Technology

Scientists at Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine are printing skin cells burns.

Researchers who were inspired by the ink-jet printer, have found a way to "print" skin cells and use them as grafts for burn victims.

Scientists at the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine took a regular ink-jet printer and loaded it with cells in vials -- in place of an ink cartridge -- to print new skin cells directly over wounds.

A laser scans the wound to create a sort of map that the printer can follow to know where to place each cell type. Then the printer runs back and forth over a wound inserting new cells that will harden and mature into skin.

Business Insider reported:

"Skin grafts, the traditional method used to treat burns, are impractical because burn victims often don't have enough unaffected skin to cover the burnt areas, according to Wake Forest's website. They also delay the time in which skin heals, which increases the risk of infection.

"But the printed skin cells expedite the healing process, according to the school. In clinical trials, mice with wounds similar to burn wounds healed in just three weeks, compared with five weeks for untreated animals."

Wake Forest Institute isn't the only facility that is researching how printers can be used in medicine. Researchers at Cornell University are using a 3D printer to build new cartilage.  The 3D printer uses a donor's cells along with other materials including biofriendly gel to build the layers of a physical object.

Hod Lipson of Cornell University told COSMOS: "Just imagine -- if you could take cells from a donor, culture them, put them into an ink and recreate an implant that is alive and made of the original cells from the donor -- how useful that would be in terms of avoiding rejection."

via COSMOS/ Business Insider

Photo via Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine

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Amy Kraft

Weekend Editor

Contributing Editor Amy Kraft is a freelance writer based in New York. She has written for New Scientist and DNAinfo and has produced podcasts for Scientific American's 60-Second-Science. She holds degrees from CUNY Graduate School of Journalism and the University of Illinois at Chicago. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure