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3D Bioprinting|Researchers Create Artificial Skin with Blood Vessels by 3D Printing

Researchers at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have developed artificial skin with blood vessels using 3D printing, which will be greatly helpful to create grafts that are more like human skin.

Previous Technology Limits
Professor Pankaj Karande, the leader of the research, said: "Currently, the clinical conversation of skin grafts is like a band-aid at best. They can accelerate the healing of wounds, but eventually they will fall off and cannot bond with patient’s skin cells.”
The main obstacle to not being able to bind to patient cells is the lack of a functioning vascular system in the artificial skin for transplantation. Professor Callander has spent many years on this issue, and has published a paper related to this research in 2013. In the study, the researchers found that two human living cells could be made into "bio-ink" and printed as a skin-like structure. Since then, Professor Callander and his team have been working with researchers at the Yale School of Medicine to develop vasculatures.

Bond Vascular Connection
Researchers said when they added key ingredients including human endothelial cells arranged inside the blood vessels, pericyte cells surrounding the endothelial cells, animal collagen, and other structural cells that appear in transplanted skin, cells begin to function with each other and form biologically relevant vascular structures within a few weeks.

Professor Callander said: "As an engineer dedicated to rebuilding biological structures, we understand that biological systems are far more complex than simple systems in the laboratory. We are surprised to find that when we begin to approach this complexity, the creature begins to take over and gradually forms the biological structure of nature. "

Researchers from Yale University transplanted the above-mentioned artificial skin with blood vessels to the mouse. Later, they found that the blood vessels on the artificial skin began to function and bond with the blood vessels of the mouse. Professor Callander said: "This result is very important because we know that blood and nutrients are imported into artificial skin to allow artificial skin to survive."

For practical application on clinical medicine, researchers must be able to use the techniques of, for example, CRISPR to edit donor cells so that the blood vessels can bond with the patient's body without repulsion. Professor Callander said: "Although we have not yet reached any stage, we are getting closer."

Future Prospects
Deepak Vashishth, director of the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Twilight Institute of Technology, said: "This significant development highlights the enormous potential of 3D bioprinting for precision medicine, which can be applied to specific situations for individually customized solution. This research is a perfect example of how engineers at Twilight Polytechnic Institute can solve human health problems."

Professor Callander thought more research is still needed to address the challenges associated with burn patients who lose nerve and blood vessel ends. However, this artificial skin has many chances for patients who need to be skin grafted to be cured, including patients with diabetes or acne. Professor Callander said: "For those patients, our artificial skin will be perfect, because acne usually appears on specific parts of the body and can be solved with smaller skin blocks. In addition, the wounds on diabetic patients heal slowly, and this artificial skin can also speed up the healing process."