Seared And Re-Engineered: Bioprinting "Living Bandages" For Burn Victims

The 3D printing revolution surges forward, and is now able to literally heal your wounds.  Scientists announced this week that 3D printed skin cells will be able to be applied to burned flesh to make it heal faster and become new again.

This amazing new development, as reported by the International Business Times, was invented at the University of Toronto, and takes an innovative approach to burn treatment.  While the successive layers of exterior and interior skin tissue (epidermis and dermis) have different cell structures and would normally require careful construction to individually repair, the scientists working on the PrintAlive project have created a "living bandage" to safely ensconce the wounded area in a healing hydrogel.

The PrintAlive bioprinter creates what is not exactly a skin graft, but rather an amalgamation of the patient's own skin tissue cells (keratinocytes and fibroblasts) along with cell nutrients, which fuse with a biopolymer that is then printed in stripes or spots to localize care as needed by the recipient.  The successive layers of skin tissue are printed together, so they will interact with the body as normally as possible to protect the damaged flesh until the wound heals itself.

Despite human trials being some 2-3 years away, the PrintAlive technology was advanced enough to win Canada's division of the prestigious James Dyson award in 2014.  The award is given to "the best student industrial or product projects in 18 countries that are able to solve a problem." They will now be competing internationally for a grand prize of $50,000 in funds.

But remember kids, just because we have this...

...doesn't mean you should do this.

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