In the Line of Fire: Printing New Skin With the Help of Inkjet Printers

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Scientists nowadays are doing some amazing research in the field of medical rehabilitation of wounds, and burn wounds in particular. This research is being done using an ink jet printer, something that is commonplace in every household. But don't dust your printers just yet, the inkjet printers being used here have been specially modified by scientists.

When it comes to the latest information technology news, the area of ​​bio-printing is a relatively new field of research which involves the use of a normal desktop printer which is fitted with cartridges of cells instead of ink that are able to print out a thin sheet of human tissue instead of paper.

With this new technology, doctors will now be able to print new skin for soldiers or people with burn wounds. The reason why the army is interested in this technology is that burns account for nearly 30% of all injuries on the battlefield. That being said, the technology, which is still in the development phase, will not necessarily be exclusive to the army, but will also be available to the masses. The technology can also be extended to other individuals who put themselves in the line of fire, for instance, the police and firefighters.

The skin is our body's most important line of defense. It is also the largest organ in our body. Our skin also helps us retain water and heat. But most importantly, it helps provide a very important barrier against various infections.

The losing of large amounts of skin causes some major problems, this is where skin printing technology comes in. Burn patients can heal a lot faster if their wounds could be covered with new skin cells. But it's not as easy as it looks. First of all, burn wounds are normally not flat, but jagged. In those areas where the wound is deeper, a different cell type is needed. That's because the cell type at the top is not similar to the cell type at the bottom.

Therefore, printing new skin involves mainly two types of skin cells:

1. The fibroblasts or Dermis: It makes up the deep layer of the skin, which helps produce the matrix that holds the skin cells together.

2. The other is keratinocytes or epidermis: It makes the outer layer of the skin.

According to the latest information technology news , with the help of these modified printers, scientists are now able to take samples of healthy skin cells from patients and grow them in an incubator. Once they have enough, the cells are loaded into specially designed cartridges. Using cameras, the burn wounds of the patient is scanned and a 3D map of the wounded area is created. Then the computer tells the printer where to start printing and which cells to use.

So is it Precise?

As mentioned earlier, cell printing is carried out by taking apart a normal ink jet printer and modifying it. Then human cells are placed inside the cartridges instead of ink. Now this is where things start to get interesting. Whenever a printer wants to drop ink, it sends a signal to one of the resistors in the cartridges, which then heats up the copper wire and causes a bubble to form which is roughly the size of a human cell. That's how scientists are able to get single cell precision with the bio-printer.

The bio-printer is able to drop each type of cell specifically where it's needed, the wound is filled, and with time, the cells go through the natural process and automatically transform into new skin.

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Source by Moe Tarhini

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