In what sounds like a scene from Robocop or The Terminator, scientists have invented an artificial skin printer, inspired by inkjet printers that could one day print skin which behaves in the same way as living tissue.
The ‘bioprinter’ utilises 3D printing techniques that combine ‘donor cells, and biofriendly gel’ to create a strange skin-like substance that is actually living cartilage. Skin is the largest organ in our bodies and the technique has already been well received in animal testing, say scientists participating in the research.
The skin is thought to have future applications for the battlefield and that’s where most of its funding is coming from too – thanks to a grant from the US government. For now, it holds much promise for treating burns victims – and by telling the computer the extent of the injury, the printer can automatically calculate how many bio-cells to print in order to heal the body.
Hod Lipson of New York’s Cornell University had this interesting tidbit to add:
“Just imagine — if you could take cells from a donor, culture them, put them into an ink and recreate an implant that is alive and made of the original cells from the donor — how useful that would be in terms of avoiding rejection.”
[Via Discovery News]
[Img credit: Discovery News]