Science-- there's something for everyone

Monday, April 19, 2010

Ink jet skin grafts

Researchers at Wake Forest University working with the U.S. Armed forces Institute of Regenerative Medicine have invented spray-on skin. They modified ordinary ink jet printers to spray precisely calibrated layers of skin cells onto burn victims.

It's critical to cover burn wounds as quickly as possible in order to avoid infection. Currently, burns are surgically covered by skin grafts, a slow and painful process. Being able to quickly 'bandage' wounds with skin cells sprayed from a printer would be a tremendous advantage.

To use the printer, skin cells such as fibroblasts and keratinocytes are cultured and then placed in separate sterile ink jet cartridges. After a laser-generated 3D image of the wound is produced, the printer deposits the cells over the wound in a process called ‘bioprinting’.

Thus far, the system has been successfully tested on mice.

Hat tip: The Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe.