Scientists at Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine have developed a device based on an inkjet printer that prints skin cells on burns and other wounds.

The device contains a tank holding a mixture of harvested skin cells, stem cells and nutrients and a computerized nozzle which first sprays a layer of fibroblast skin cells and then a layer of protective keratinocyte cells.

In initial tests on wounded lab mice, burns treated with the cell printer healed in two weeks, compared with the usual five weeks skin grafts take to heal. Additionally, the mice with the printed-on skin showed less scarring and more hair regeneration, as the sprayed-on stem cells better incorporated themselves into all the various cell types of the burned flesh.

Successful mouse tests have driven the Wake Forest scientists onward to tests with pigs, whose skin more closely resembles that of humans. After the tests with pigs conclude, the doctors can finally move on to human trials, and eventual FDA approval. Additionally, the Wake Forest team is working with the U.S. Armed Forces Institute of Regenerative Medicine to utilize this technology on the battlefield.

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