In a paper for the journal Biofabrication, the team details how the printer lays down bioinks containing human plasma as well as primary human fibroblasts and keratinocytes. The printer first lays down a layer of external epidermis and then a thicker layer of fibroblasts that produce collagen, which will make the flesh strong and elastic.
“Knowing how to mix the biological components, in what conditions to work with them so that the cells don’t deteriorate, and how to correctly deposit the product is critical to the system,” said Juan Francisco del Cañizo, of the Hospital General Universitario.
The end result is a 100-cm2 slab of skin, printed in 35 minutes, that can be transplanted onto patients. Its production can be automated to a large degree. The skin can also be used to test the irritant qualities of consumer products without having to shave animals and use them as test subjects.
“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 team notes in its paper.