3D printer set to print human skin

Posted Jan 31, 2017 by Tim Sandle
An innovative 3D bioprinter is being prepared to produce human skin, designed for medical research purposes (such as the testing out of new drugs). This skin may also be adequate for transplanting to patients.
New research suggests health risks from home use of 3D printers
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The new printer is set to be one of the most sophisticated biological 3D printers yet. It has come about through a collaboration between Universidad Carlos III de Madrid (UC3M), CIEMAT (Center for Energy, Environmental and Technological Research), Hospital General Universitario Gregorio Marañón. These academic institutions have worked closely with the technology company BioDan Group.
Bioprinting is a special type of additive printing and a variant of 3D printing. With this process, an ink containing human cells is used in place of the conventional chemicals or plastics used with more standard 3D printers. As an example of 3D bioprinting, Digital Journal reported last year about the printer-generation of cartilage to be used in surgery to assist those suffering with arthritis.
In trials the printer has successfully produced the external layer of human skin - the epidermis with its stratum corneum - which acts as protection against the external environment, together with the thicker, deeper lower layer called the dermis. The tricky part with the development was creating the appropriate type and mix of biological components to act as the 'bioinks' (which are formed from human cells and components). With this it was important to ensure that the cells required did not deteriorate.
Now that the process has been standardized and demonstrated to be consistent, human skin will be produced on demand for researchers. The skin produced is described as closely resembling human skin. The intention is to use it for transplanting to patients (skin grafts, like those used for cosmetic surgery) and to use in research for the testing of cosmetic, chemical, and pharmaceutical products.
The technology has been described in the journal Biofabrication, with the research paper titled "3D bioprinting of functional human skin: production and in vivo analysis."