Bioprinted human skin for burn patients and those suffering from skin disorders may be on the horizon. Dutch scientist Ingmar van Hengel, along with a team of five others, is developing a technology they call SkinPrint.
SkinPrint will use a 3D bioprinter in combination with the latest stem cell technology to develop personalized skin grafts that could change the face of medicine as we know it.
In order to create the transplantable skin, the team first gathers a hair sample from the patient. Then, they use the DNA within to create personalized stem cells. Those cells are the bio-medium that the 3D printer uses to build the new skin. Once the skin has been printed, it's able to be directly transplanted onto the patient.
Current skin grafting procedures require the removal of skin from a donor site somewhere else on the body. It's a painful process for the patient, since it forces their body to heal a secondary injury on top of the first. With SkinPrint, there will be no additional pain or scarring, because the skin won't come from a donor site.
SkinPrint has already drawn in the prestigious Phillips Innovation Award, but it hasn't been approved for hospital use yet. In order to make the technology widely available, the team will have to get approval from the European Medicines Agency.
According to Ingmar van Hengel, the team's leader, they are working hard to move things along.
"We need to prove that this method is safe. Fortunately, we work with the Swiss Professor Ernst Reichmann, an expert in the field of skin. With his help, I think within five years hospitals should be able to make 3D printed human skin."
You can watch SkinPrint's presentation at the Philips Innovation Award here: