For burn victims and those suffering diseases that require extensive skin grafts, treatment can mean a long, painful process that yields imperfect results. However, a new Dutch technology named SkinPrint might improve the healing of such conditions.
Aided by Swiss Professor Ernst Reichmann, an expert in tissue biology, Ingmar van Hengel, Eline Kulpers, Paul Ormel & Tessa Sandberg have created a way to print custom tailored skin grafts.
At the core of SkinPrint’s technology is the remarkable adaptability of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPS). iPS are particularly useful to the SkinPrint team because they allow them to create a variety of stem cells that can then be transformed into a diverse range of cells, including skin cells.
Ingmar van Hengel, the team’s lead, explains the SkinPrint process, “We take a hair sample for the patient which will then be transformed into stem cells. These cells then function as the ink for the printer. The bioprinter then prints the personalized human skin which is ready for transplantation.”
While SkinPrint was awarded top prize at the Phillips Innovation Awards earlier this week, the team still needs approval from the European Medicines Agency if their technology is ever to make it to market. “We need to prove that this method is safe. Fortunately, we work with the Swiss Professor Ernst Reichmann, an expert in the field of skin. With his help, I think within five years hospitals should be able to make 3D printed human skin." Said Van Hengel.
If van Hengel and his team can keep their project on track, burn victims, soldiers and countless others who experience severe skin injuries might find relief and treatment a much quicker and complete manner.
Watch the SkinPrint presentation at PHIA:
Image courtesy of SkinPrint