Nanyang Technological University's Singapore Centre for 3D Printing (SC3DP) scientists are the first in the world to print human skin that match our natural colours and pigmentation. This provides companies with a more ethical way of testing drugs or cosmetics, instead of using animals. 3D printed skin can ultimately be used to help burn victims and diabetics. "People with diabetes sometimes get wounds that are very difficult to heal," said Dr. Yeong. The bioprinting project is a collaboration between SC3DP and the Singapore Institute of Manufacturing Technology at the Agency for Science, Technology and Research.
"Ink" made of three types of skin cells are fed into a special printer along with a soft collagen gel. The raw materials are laid down in precisely patterned layers that result in the natural colouring of human skin. The skin construct is then cultured for four weeks before it is ready to be harvested. The entire process takes up to two months. Bioprinting might even allow researchers to mimic the skin of people from different age groups, and print other body parts, such as retinas, which could be used to test drugs.
However, while skin printing technology holds much promise, skin pre-grown from human donors will be liable to rejection by the patient's immune system and the harvesting and growing of the patients' skin cells to provide enough "cell ink" might take a long time.
- The Straits Times, 2 March 2018, page A3 (with front page blurb)
- The Straits Times online, 2 March 2018
(Original article from Singapore Centre for 3D Printing)