Imagine a world where you can have a whole new face in under 10 minutes! Okay, maybe it’s not as dramatic as in the movie ‘Face Off,’ but the development of 3D bioengineered skin is a game-changer in the field of skin grafting.
The skin on our body is very complicated and can be challenging to fix when it gets damaged. This is because it’s made up of different types of cells and has different properties depending on where it is in our body.
Scientists are trying to make new skin in the lab using human cells. This is really important because it could help people who need new skin due to an injury or disease. It could also help us test new medicines for skin diseases to ensure they work well on human skin.
As per a research paper published in January 2023, scientists came up with a new idea to make replacement skin so that it can be used as a full piece, like a glove, to cover any part of the body that needs new skin. It’s like wearing a piece of clothing made from real skin instead of fabric. This new way of making skin could help people with injuries requiring a lot of skin to be repaired.
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As per the study summary published in Eurekalert, scientists can now create 3D bioengineered skin by scanning a body part that requires a graft, printing a life-size hollow model, and seeding it with skin fibroblast cells, collagen, and keratinocyte cells.
This new process involves using a 3D laser scanner to take pictures of the part of the body that needs the graft. Then, a special mold is created using a computer and a 3D printer. This mold is filled with skin cells and other important proteins that help create new skin. The mold is also given a special liquid to help the new skin grow properly.
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If It Works On Mice…
Scientists have tested the new 3D skin grafts on mice, and they worked! The human skin cells were used to create the grafts, which were then placed on the hind legs of the mice (almost like putting skin pants on). The surgery to put them on only took about 10 minutes, and after four weeks, the grafts had fully combined with the mouse skin. This means the mice were able to use their legs normally again.
However, mouse skin is different from human skin, so the next step for scientists is to try the grafts on larger animals with skin that is more like human skin. It will still be a while before these grafts can be used on humans because more testing needs to be done.
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Advantages Of 3D Engineered Skin
The benefits of 3D bioengineered skin are numerous. They would dramatically reduce the need for suturing, shorten the length of surgeries, and improve aesthetic outcomes.
Patients may even be able to receive such grafts grown from their own cells, making them less likely to reject the transplant. It’s like having your own designer skin.
While there is still much research to be done before human trials can take place, the potential of 3D bioengineered skin as a better alternative to face transplants is exciting. No need to steal someone’s face or use facial tissue harvested from cadavers when you can have your own 3D-printed skin!
The development of 3D bioengineered skin could revolutionize the field of skin grafting, offering hope to burn victims and other patients in need of extensive skin repair. So, get ready for a new face in just 10 minutes, or maybe just a new layer of skin. Who knows, maybe we’re one step closer to living in a world where we can swap faces with anyone we want.
Featured Image Credit: EdZbarzhyvetsky /Depositphotos.com.