Recently we showcased a 3D printer that creates human body parts ready for transplant, and now our frankenstinean fascination with making body parts has unearthed another amazing device. This new bio-printer sprays skin cells on burn victim’s wounds, promoting healthy recovery. The printer is mounted onto a frame that is wheeled over a patient’s hospital bed. A laser reads the depth and shape of the wound, and with the help of a computer the device sprays a precise layer of skin cells that can heal infection-prone wounds in just three weeks.
The skin-spraying project is being developed by scientists and students at Wake Forest University in North Carolina. They are planning to team up with U.S. Armed Forces Institute of Regenerative Medicine to use the device to help wounded soldiers returning from overseas. The process starts as skin cells are separated and purified. They are then placed in a nutritious solution that helps the cells multiply. They are then loaded into the device, sprayed on the skin in layers and voila! Burns are healed. So far they’ve only tested the process on mice, and they were able to successfully heal burns after just three weeks.
Traditionally the only way to fix severe burn wounds is a skin graft. Skin grafts are highly painful and generally leave huge scars. With this new process scientists include some stem cells in the mix which allows hair follicles and sebaceous glands develop in the new layers of skin. It seems that when the cells are sprayed on the wound they know exactly what they are supposed to do, and they develop as naturally as a your own skin would. Eliminating the mass amount of medical rehabilitation involved in getting burn victims back on their feet by spraying on skin cells will eliminate much of the painful process and cut down on the chemical-based medicines used to help them heal.