Got a flesh wound? Why not print some new skin?

Normally, if part of your skin is badly damaged in an accident, you'll need skin grafts from other parts of your body to replace the damaged skin layers. Now a group of researchers at the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine says that new skin can actually be printed, using technology that's very similar to a regular ink jet printer.

The main difference is that instead of ink, the skin printer will have two heads that propel a combination of skin cells, collagen, and blood coagulants onto the wound. The two compounds form skin once they are mixed together at the print head, in much the same way epoxy glues harden when the two parts are mixed together.

The resulting wound still needs time to heal, but the researchers see this technique as being especially helpful for treating soldiers with battlefield injuries. Currently trials are proceeding with mice, and they plan to follow up with tests using pigs due to their skin being much more like human skin. No word yet on when human trials might begin.

Clinical Congress, via Technology Review

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