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Technology   Artificial skin

3-D bioprinter produces functional human skin suitable for transplant

3-D bioprinterRsearchers in Spain report that they have developed a 3-D bioprinter capable of producing human skin that is adequate for transplant into patients, or for testing drugs and cosmetics.

The team, including a group from the Universidad Carlos III de Madrid (UC3M) in Spain, describes the breakthrough in the journal Biofabrication.

3-D printing is an emerging new technology with applications in many fields. In medicine, for example, several groups worldwide are exploring ways to use 3-D printing to grow the complex tissues and organs of the human body.

One group has successfully created a human ear, while another is working on 3-D printing bone tissue.

One of the challenges of making human body parts with 3-D printing is not only replicating the complexity of the structures, but also ensuring that they survive transplantation in a living body.

The researchers in Spain have already been engineering plasma-based, two-layered skin that has been used successfully to treat burns and other wounds in a large number of patients.

With this method, however, it can take 3 weeks to produce the amount of skin required to cover an extensive burn or large wound. The other drawback is that much of the process is performed manually.

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