Spanish team creates proper human skin with 3D printing

London, Jan 24 (IANS) Using the 3D-printing technology, a team of Spanish scientists has for the first time created proper human skin that can be used in transplants on burn patients and those with other skin problems and also in chemical tests.

According to José Luis Jorcano, professor, department of bioengineering and aerospace engineering at Universidad Carlos III de Madrid (UC3M), the new human skin is one of the first living human organs created using 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, together with the dermis — another thicker, deeper layer.

The last layer consists of fibroblasts that produce collagen, the protein that gives elasticity and mechanical strength to the skin.

The 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,” Luis Jorcano noted.

When creating skin, instead of cartridges and coloured inks, injectors with biological components are used.

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.

“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,” the researchers noted in a paper published in the scientific journal Biofabrication.

“This method of bioprinting allows skin to be generated in a standardised, automated way, and the process is less expensive than manual production,” Alfredo Brisac, CEO of Spanish bioengineering firm BioDan Group pointed out.

Currently, this development is in the phase of being approved by different European regulatory agencies to guarantee that the skin that is produced is adequate for use in transplants on burn patients and those with other skin problems.

In addition, these tissues can be used to test pharmaceutical products, as well as cosmetics and consumer chemical products where current regulations require testing that does not use animals.

–IANS

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