Portable bio-printer can treat severe burns by "printing" skin

Severe burns are often complicated lesions to treat. The greater the extent, the more complex the conventional treatment by skin grafting and may even prove impossible in certain cases. In addition, the topology and shape of the burn can also complicate the process. Recently, a team of researchers has developed a portable dermal printer capable of printing a biofilm infused with precursor dermal cells directly on burns, allowing rapid and reliable regrowth of all layers of the skin, and showing better therapeutic results. than other standard treatments.

A team of researchers in Canada has successfully tested a new portable 3D skin printer that treats severe burns by "printing" new skin cells directly to a wound.

Although the new system is in the early stages of development, it could potentially provide a way to treat patients whose burns are too large to allow skin grafts. The results were published in the journal IOP Publishing Biofabrication .

Skin grafting and collagen structuring: limited standard treatments

Lead author, University of Toronto professor Axel Günther explains: "Skin grafts, where damaged tissue is removed and replaced with skin taken from another area of ​​the patient's body, is standard treatment for severe burns. However, in cases where a patient has extensive full-thickness burns - which destroys both the upper and lower layers of the skin - there is not always enough healthy skin to use.”

Skin grafting and collagen restructuring are the two conventional treatments for burns. But depending on the extent and severity of the sores, they can be limited. Credit: LeFigaro

"While there are alternatives - including scaffolds using bovine collagen or artificial skin substitutes grown in vitro - none is ideal. Collagen scaffolds depend on the tissue and cells surrounding the wound to heal completely, while in vitro skin substitutes can take several weeks to prepare and are difficult to successfully apply to a patient when the burn area is large.”

Dermal printer: it provides fast, reliable healing for all types of wounds

To overcome these challenges, the research team designed a portable device to deposit precursor sheets directly on wounds of any size, shape or topography.

It uses a biological link based on fibrin - a protein involved in blood clotting - infused with mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs), which support the growth of local cells and help the body's immune response. The sheets are "printed" directly on the wound from the flexible roller of the device.

(a): Schematic illustration of how the device is used. (b): Image showing how the device delivers biofilm directly to the wound surface. Credits: Richard Y Cheng et al. 2020

Marc Jeschke, medical director of the Ross Tilley Burn Center at the Sunnybrook Health Sciences Center in Toronto, says: “In general, the wound surfaces for which we designed this device are not flat or oriented horizontally. One of the most important advantages of the device is that it should allow the uniform deposition of a bio-bonding layer on inclined surfaces. In this study, we tested whether the device could do this effectively by using it to treat full-thickness burns in pigs.”

“We found that the device successfully deposited the 'skin sheets' on the wounds in a uniform, safe and reliable manner, and they stayed in place with very little movement. More importantly, our results showed that wounds treated with MSC healed extremely well, with reduced inflammation, scarring and contractions compared to untreated wounds and those treated with collagen scaffold.”


PAPER: Handheld instrument for wound-conformal delivery of skin precursor sheets improves healing in full-thickness burns

Richard Y Cheng, Gertraud Eylert, Jean-Michel Gariepy, Sijin He, Hasan Ahmad, Yizhou Gao, Stefania Priore4, Navid Hakimi, Marc G Jeschke, and Axel Günther

Published 4 February 2020

Biofabrication, Volume 12, Number 2

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