The U.S. Army is hoping to soon heal soldiers' wounds by 3D bioprinting skin. The skin, which would be personalized to each patient, would lead to faster recovery for those who have been severely burned. It would also allow for a greater range of movement. The new process would allow doctors to scan the surface of the burned skin to create a 3D map of the wound in order to print skin cells. The Army also has plans to bioprint organs, limbs and vascular systems.
“The scars that Soldiers develop as a result of burns constrict movement and disfigure them permanently. The initiative to restore high-quality skin that is elastic and complete with sweat glands, appropriate pigmentation and hair follicles is incredibly important," said Dr. Michael Romanko, who is working on the project. “Everyone has a different type of injury, and not everyone’s skin injury looks the same. Skin bioprinting would provide a scalable form of personalized medicine."
The system will work by loading healthy skin cells into a 3D printer. The cartridges will have two type of skin cells, fibroblasts and keratinocytes. Fibroblasts make the deep layer of skin while keratinocytes make the top layer.
The Department of Defense is hoping to move the process to clinical trials in the near future. They also hope this technique can be rolled out the public.