Novel 3D bioprinting method for the fabrication of pigmented human skin construct


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A research group from Singapore Institute of Manufacturing Technology (SIMTech) and Nanyang Technological University (NTU), have developed a method that achieves the pigmentation of 3D printed human skin, according to a study published in the journal Biofabrication.

Today, scientists can use engineered skin tissues for clinical applications such as skin grafts, as well as for toxicological and chemical testing. However, whilst currently available skin constructs do show a certain degree of resemblance to native skin tissue, they still lack the complexity of features such as skin pigmentation, sweat glands and hair follicles.

The researchers from SIMTech and NTU used a novel, two-step process that first involved printing fibroblast-laden, porous collagen-based matrices that closely resemble the skin’s dermal architecture. This created a microenvironment that facilitates interactions among the different types of skin cells. For the second step, they used a ‘drop-on-demand’ technique that enabled the precise spatial distribution of epidermal cells such as keratinocytes and melanocytes at pre-defined positions on top of the biomimetic dermal constructs to emulate the epidermal melanin units of skin, thereby creating a 3D in vitro pigmented human skin construct. This resulted in constructs with much more uniform pigmentation compared to skin constructs fabricated by conventional manual-casting approaches.

The uniformity and reproducibility achieved with such a novel 3D bioprinting technique, mean it has the potential to be used for the development of skin constructs for toxicity testing in the pharmaceutical industry in the future.

 

Source: Wei Long Ng et al Biofabrication(2018)

 

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