Inkjet cell fabricator prints out healing flesh directly onto wounds

Inkjet cell fabricator prints out healing
flesh directly onto wounds
octors at the Wake Forest Institute of Regenerative MedD
icine (Winston Salem, NC) have come up with another
astounding breakthrough. They recently designed an inkjet
tlefield, to print shut bullet wounds and blast damage. ■
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printer-like device that sprays new skin cells onto damaged
burn tissue as if it were a cheap tan. This device provides a fast
alternative to delicate skin grafts, and could eventually be used
to close other kinds of wounds as well. The device itself consists of a tank holding a mixture of harvested skin cells, stem
cells, and nutrients, and a computer-controlled nozzle that
places the cells exactly where they need to go. The spray works
similar to a color printer, first spraying down a layer of fibroblast skin cells as a substrate, and then blasting on a layer of
protective keratinocyte cells. Both sprays also contain some
undeveloped skin 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 US Food
and Drug Administration approval. Additionally, the Wake
Forest team is working with the US Armed Forces Institute of
Regenerative Medicine to utilize this technology on the bat-
Clinical Commentary
hoever thought HP, Dell, or Brother might be taking care of your skin?! Seriously,
the potential to use the same technology in the clinic that has been used for a few
decades in the home and office to print text and graphics is intriguing. I suspect there are
many parallels that have to be worked out first, not all that dissimilar to the problems associated with ink jet printers.
Nozzle clog. We have all had this happen with ink jet printers. Hopefully the small
clumps of cells will slide through without any problems. Of course, the force and distance
will have to be just right to avoid spatter and water. A new nozzle for each patient of
course—can’t forget OSHA.
Cost. Inkjet printers are usually cheap; the ink is expensive. (Give away the razor cheap;
sell the blades dead!). Biopsy, expansion, preparation, and transportation will surely make
this one of the more expensive technologies to cover a wound. It will be worth it if it works,
but don’t compare it to wet or dry dressings. Lets try it head to head against other advanced technologies to see what works
better or best.
Choice of paper. For inkjets, this is often limited. The “ink recipient” for cells may be a diabetic, immunocompromised
smoker. It would be wonderful if the “cell” ink “sticks” and proliferates.
Black and white or color. Other possible uses besides “pure” wound healing, such as repopulating deepithelialized areas
of vitiligo with melanocyte rich “ink” are intriguing.
I do hope this technology “sticks” and leaves its mark on the advanced wound care field. — Daniel Mark Siegel, MD, MS