Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Bio-Printing: A Revolution in Healing?

In Winston-Salem, North Carolina, a copier device (much like your personal printer) is printing new skin to match the skin lost by burn victims.

The treatment was developed through research with the U.S. Armed Forces Institute of Regenerative Medicine--- for better means of healing soldiers wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan.

It's called "bio-printing," and it seems to work amazingly well.

The team of scientists, at Wake Forest University, utilized much of the tech from standard office inkjet printers---they spray skin cells directly onto open burn wounds.

The paint-like coating immediately protects the victims injury. And healing is quickly promoted at the burn site.

Doctors on the research team say that healing bad burn wounds this new way is an amazing alternative to the long painful procession of doing multiple skin grafts.

Third-degree burn victims, without skin grafts, often suffer lethal infections, and conventional grafting leaves horrific scars.

Using a laser to measure the burn area's dimensions, the spray of protective skin cells is applied with great accuracy. The device is mounted on a movable structure and the skin cells are sprayed at the wound while the patient lies on a hospital bed.

Tests on mice showed the spray system, called bioprinting, could heal wounds quickly and safely, the researchers reported at the Translational Regenerative Medicine Forumb. 

"We literally print the cells directly onto the wound," said one research student, who actually helped design the device. "We can put specific cells where they need to go. We were able to close the entire wound in two weeks."

George Christ, a professor of regenerative medicine at the school, said that human-testing approval (by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration) is the next step.

The team believes the device could be used to close various types of wounds as well as burns. This opens countless new avenues of repairing the human body.

Could his healing method revolutionize surgery, as we know it?

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