BEACON TRANSCRIPT – A new handheld 3D skin printer could help cover up people’s wounds and become the next big thing in the treatment of patients with severe burns and deep wounds.
University of Toronto scientists developed this new machine. According to the, unlike a routine skin graft, it does not require skin to be removed from the patient’s body. Nor does this have to be donated by a skin donor.
The printer is unlike anything the medical world has seen so far. It weighs just two pounds and can reportedly deposit new skin tissue over skin wounds in under two minutes. These features make it super easy to use during surgery.
A paper presenting the new device is available in the journal Lab on a Chip.
The Advantages of a Handheld 3D Skin Printer
Typically, a patient with deep skin wounds is treated by a doctor using a split-thickness skin grafting technique. But sometimes, the wound damage goes very deep into the layers of the skin. This damage can cut right through the hypodermis, dermis, and epidermis layers of the skin.
When the wound is so deep and extensive, it can be hard to find high-quality donor skin. Or one that also matches the exact needs of the patients. This can leave parts of the skin uncovered and make it hard for it to heal. As such, it transforms the split-thickness skin grafting technique into a bit of a failure.
The University of Toronto’s handheld 3D skin printer can reportedly apply skin directly to the wound, just like ‘applying packing tape to a package’. The protein in the “fake” skin allows the skin to heal nicely as well. This can especially happen since the printer is able to manufacture skin that meets the patient’s specific needs.
So far, the printer has only been tested on pigs, but plans are in the works for it to be used on humans in the near future. The team at the University of Toronto also has plans to increase the size of the machine so that it can produce larger pieces of skin.
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