(SPAIN)

A 3D bioprinter created by Spanish scientists prints functioning human skin which could be used in transplants and cosmetic testing.

The team of researchers from Universidad Carlos III de Madrid (UC3M), the CIEMAT (Center for Energy, Environmental and Technological Research) and Hospital Gregorio Marañón in Madrid, in collaboration with private company Biodan, has developed a prototype for a 3D printer capable of printing the functioning human skin. This new human skin is one of the first living human organs created using bioprinting to be introduced to the marketplace.

One of the authors of the research – published in the electronic version of the scientific journal Biofabrication – Professor José Luis Jorcano, from UC3M’s department of Bioengineering and Aerospace Engineering, said the skin “can be transplanted to patients or used in business settings to test chemical products, cosmetics or pharmaceutical products in quantities and with timetables and prices that are compatible with these uses.”

Bioinks are of central importance to bioprinting. They are the equivalent of coloured inks on a normal printer but with cartriages which contain protein, cells and biological components.

“Knowing how to mix the biological components, in what conditions to work with them so that the cells don’t deteriorate, and how to correctly deposit the product is critical to the system,” Juan Francisco del Cañizo, of the Hospital General Universitario Gregorio Marañón and Universidad Complutense de Madrid researcher explained.

The pioneering technology is currently being assessed by various European regulatory agencies to ensure the skin is suitable for use in transplants on burn patients and those with other skin problems.

José added the team is already “working to develop even more sophisticated bioprinters than the one we have”.