- Human skin can now be produced using 3D bioprinting technology.
- Bioinks are used for 3D printing of the skin.
- The skin can be used for therapeutic applications like transplantation or for large scale industrial processes.
A team of researchers have demonstrated that, using the new 3D printing technology, it is possible to produce proper human skin.
One of the authors, José Luis Jorcano, professor in UC3M's department of Bioengineering and Aerospace Engineering and head of the Mixed Unit CIEMAT/UC3M in Biomedical Engineering, says "this skin can be transplanted to patients or used in business settings to test chemical products, cosmetics or pharmaceutical products in quantities and with timetables and prices that are compatible with these uses."
‘3D bioprinting is a suitable technology that could be used generate bioengineered skin for therapeutical and industrial applications in an automatized manner.’
The new human skin is one of the first living human organs created using 3D bioprinting to be introduced to the marketplace
It replicates the natural structure of the skin with:
- a first external layer-the epidermis with its stratum corneum, which acts as protection against the external environment
- thicker and deeper layer-the dermis that consists of fibroblasts that produce collagen, the protein that gives elasticity and mechanical strength to the skin
For 3D bioprinting, bioinks are used. When creating skin, instead of cartridges and colored inks, injectors with biological components are used.
According to Juan Francisco del Cañizo, of the Hospital General Universitario Gregorio Marañón and Universidad Complutense de Madrid researcher, "Knowing how to mix the biological components, in what conditions to work with them so that the cells don't deteriorate, and how to correctly deposit the product is critical to the system."
The act of depositing these bioinks is controlled by a computer, which deposits them on a print bed in an orderly manner to then produce the skin
Two types of tissues can be created:
- allogeneic skin, from a stock of cells, done on a large scale, for industrial processes
- autologous skin, which is made from the patient's own cells, for therapeutic use, such as in the treatment of severe burns
"We use only human cells and components to produce skin that is bioactive and can generate its own human collagen, thereby avoiding the use of the animal collagen that is found in other methods," authors note.
The structure and function of the printed skin was analyzed using histological and immunohistochemical methods
, both in 3D in vitro cultures and after long-term transplantation to immunodeficient mice.
In both cases, the results showed that generated skin was very similar to human skin.
"This method of bioprinting allows skin to be generated in a standardized, automated way, and the process is less expensive than manual production," says Alfredo Brisac, CEO of BioDan Group.
To guarantee that the skin that is produced is adequate for use in transplants on burn patients and those with other skin problems, it needs to be approved by European regulatory agencies.
These tissues can also be used to test pharmaceutical products, as well as cosmetics and consumer chemical products where current regulations do not require animal testing.
Researchers are looking for ways to print other human tissues.
This research from Carlos III University of Madrid has recently been published in the electronic version of the scientific journal Biofabrication
- José Luis Jorcano et al. 3D bioprinting of functional human skin: production and in vivo analysis. Biofabrication ; (year)