Scientists at the University of Toronto have developed a portable device that, after more than a decade of effort to print large amounts of “bio-ink” to facilitate the healing process, in an effort to find a way to treat severe burns without skin grafting,media reported. The team has tested its latest model and has demonstrated for the first time that it has the ability to accelerate the regeneration of healthy pig skin.
Developed by the University of Toronto’s School of Applied Science and Engineering, scientists hope to create a treatment that could replace skin grafts commonly used to treat severe burns.
Study author Marc Jeschke said: “When a large area of burns occurs, you don’t have enough healthy skin, which can lead to death. “
The team launched a handheld prototype in 2018 — a step closer to the microwave oven-sized device shown in 2014 — and now looks a bit like the medical device used by surgeons in the operating room as researchers imagine. It works by printing biomaterials containing interstitial matrix cells that can differentiate into special types of cells, but in this research scenario they play a role in promoting skin regeneration and reducing scarring.
The team conducted further research by looking at how the printed skin promotes healing. Their latest experiment was on the skin of pigs with a whole layer of burn, and the result was that these flakes could promote the regeneration of dermal cells and the formation of new blood vessels.
“Previously, we have shown that we can deposit cells in burns, but there is no evidence that there is any healing benefit – and now we have proved that,” said study co-author Axel Guenther. “
Next, the team continued to improve the technology, believing that the handheld skin printer could be clinical within the next five years.
“Once it’s in the operating room, I think this printer will be a game-changer to save lives,” says Jeschke, “and with such a device, it could revolutionise the way we care for burns and trauma.” “