The researchers developed a new method to 3D print living skin with a built-in blood vessel from Rensselaer Institute, and this living skin construct is cultured in vitro and transforms into an interconnected microvascular network beneath a layered barrier of skin cells.
FREMONT, CA: Currently, artificial skin grafts can fall off because of the lack of integration with the host cells. In a test conducted on mice, the grafts connect with the animals’ vascular network and turn out to become perfused within four weeks after the transplantation. This development can one day provide new—more functional skin grafts for patients. But one of the critical challenges for this lack of integration has been the absence of a functional vascular system to assist the transplanted tissue.
The skin graft is made by 3D printing using a bioink, including fibroblasts, endothelial cells, pericytes, collagen, and other needed components were leveraged to pattern the vascularized dermis layer of the skin. The cell, which forms the impermeable epidermis of the skin, keratinocytes, is printed on a collagen bioink above the dermis. After being cultured in vitro for tissue maturation, the skin grafts are ready to be transplanted on mice. It was observed that grafts were connected with local mouse vasculature, which leads to the invasion of the host vessels into the graft, and forms an epidermal rete, and the epithelial extensions attach to the connective tissue under the skin.
Adhering to the fact that engineers are continuously working to recreate biology, it is crucial to appreciate and recognize that biology is way more complicated than the simple systems that are created in a lab, said Pankaj Karande, a senior author of the study and a Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering at Rensselaer, in a Rensselaer press release.
The patients with diabetic or pressure ulcers, these advancements would be beneficiary because ulcers generally appear at distinct areas on the body, and it can be labeled with smaller pieces of the skin. The diabetic patient takes a longer time to heal, and this could help in accelerating the process.