posted on January 24, 2013 |
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Using skin grafts has become common practice when treating major wounds or burns. However, the major drawback of skin grafts has always been that the transplanted skin has to be removed from an otherwise healthy part of the patient’s body.
In the past decade, researchers and scientist have been working on methods to create artificial skin grafts with a great deal of success. Much of this research has been focused on printing skin grafts by using a “scaffolding” method whereby a micro-scale structure is created and living cells are printed onto the framework.
While the scaffolding method has proved successful, a new technique for printing artificial skin, developed at the University of Toronto, might prove to be significantly more effective.
Graduate students Lian Leng, Boyang Zhang and Arianna McAllister teamed up with the Institute of Biomaterials and Biomedical Engineering led by Axel Guenther and Milica Radisic. According to UofT Magazine, “…[T]he core of the printer is a small, unassuming-looking rubber device with seven tiny wells. Each well holds a different biologically compatible polymer solution preloaded with molecules or cells, such as skin cells. The liquids are then extruded through the device, forming a soft, pliable, continuously flowing sheet of artificial skin full of living cells.”
Once the sheet of cells is extruded by the printer, it is collected on roll that can ultimately become many centimeters thick. Before the development of this technique, creating large artificial skin grafts was near impossible.
To add to the impressiveness of this breakthrough technique, lab leader Milica Radisic said, “Compared to other printers, which cost about $200,000, even by the most conservative estimates this one will produce tissue at a thousandth of the cost.”
Read More at UofT Magazine
Images Courtesy of UofT Magazine