Towards Rapid Printing of Human Skin

From CNN: "We started out by taking a typical desktop inkjet cartridge. Instead of ink we use cells, which are placed in the cartridge ... The device could be used to rebuild damaged or burned skin. The project is in pre-clinical phases and may take another five years of development before it is ready to be used on human burn victims. ... researchers say organs - not just skin - could be printed using similar techniques. ... The skin-printing process involves several steps. First, a small piece of skin is taken from the patient. The sample is about half the size of a postage stamp, and it is taken from the patient by using a chemical solution. Those cells are then separated and replicated on their own in a specialized environment that catalyzes this cell development. ... We expand the cells in large quantities. Once we make those new cells, the next step is to put the cells in the printer, on a cartridge, and print on the patient ...The printer is then placed over the wound at a distance so that it doesn't touch the burn victim. ... It's like a flat-bed scanner that moves back and forth and put cells on you. ... The device can fabricate healthy skin in anywhere from minutes to a few hours, depending on the size and type of burn. ... researchers said they're pleased with results of preliminary laboratory testing with the skin printer [and] already have been able to [make] healthy skin."

Link: http://www.cnn.com/2011/TECH/innovation/02/19/bioprinting.wounded.soldiers/index.html

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