Can we heal wounds by printing skin?


Scientists at the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine (WFIRM) in Winston-Salem, NC, have created a bioprinter that uses a person’s own skin cells to create layers of new skin and apply them directly to the wound.

A new paper, which now appears in the journal Scientific Reports, details the development of this new technology.

The procedure involves harvesting major skin cells called dermal fibroblasts and epidermal keratinocytes from a biopsy of a person’s normal skin tissue.

The scientists expanded the cells and mixed them into a hydrogel. They then placed them into the bioprinter, which scans the person’s wound, feeds the data into the software, and tells the device where to place the printed layers of skin.

The resulting material is uniquely printed to match the exact areas in a person’s wound where it is needed without the need for a donor skin graft.

This technique can replicate the natural function of skin and accelerate how skin naturally forms, which means that healing can take less time and has fewer risks.

“The unique aspect of this technology is the mobility of the system and the ability to provide on-site management of extensive wounds by scanning and measuring them in order to deposit the cells directly where they are needed to create skin,” said Lead study author Sean Murphy, Ph.D.