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  • Writer's pictureSara

How can 3D-bioprinting change lives?

Updated: Dec 10, 2021

From the patient to the patient… This is how plastic surgeons want to revolutionize skin transplant at the “Hôpital de la Conception”, in Marseille. It is now possible thanks to the new 3D-bioprinter that was installed in the cellular therapy department. A real technological revolution that can turn science fiction to reality.

The 3D-bioprinter

This ambitious idea is made possible thanks to the Poieskin® bioprinter. Indeed, it is capable of bio-printing a “human full thickness skin model”[1], thus replicating the different layers of the skin. Indeed, the skin is composed of an external layer, the epidermis, that protects the body from external aggression. Followed by the dermis, the second layer, which is thicker and deeper. Finally, the last layer, the subcutaneous tissue, is composed of fibroblast, responsible for producing collagen, which has a major role in the skin elasticity and strength.[2] With this 3D printer, it is possible to recreate all the mentioned layers leading to a natural structure of the skin with its full architecture, in an automated, standardized way.


From the patient to the patient

This technology can benefit patients with severe tissue lesions, severe burns victims or even cancer patient that had large tissue ablation. The process takes approximately 3 weeks and starts with a small biopsy of 4 cm² of the patient’s skin. These cells are then amplified in vitro, then with the bio-printer, expanded by a factor 10, leading from a 4 cm² sample to a 40 cm² natural skin graft. The graft is thus ready to be re-implanted in the same patient[3]. Today’s ambition is to expand the bio-printer’s capacities to a factor of 100.


Preliminary test and future clinical trials

Before testing this promising process on humans, it has to be tested and validated, to verify if the skin produced is adequate for transplant use, and eventually become an approved treatment for skin problems. Some preliminary studies have been performed in the cellular therapy laboratory and the faculty of medicine. Indeed, some in vitro and in vivo test were performed to characterize and optimize this bio-printed skin and verify its structural and functional parameters. Indeed, once implanted, the graft has to

  • Integrate in the host’s environment. This implies the fusion of the dermis and epidermis with the existing layers

  • Induce the generation of new blood vessels to irrigate the newly transplanted cells and supply them with all needed nutrients and oxygen to survive

  • Be as resistant and elastic as real skin, once healed.

Once the concerned authorities give their green light, a clinical trial should take place in 2022 on 12 patients selected based on different criteria (age, good blood flow…) to optimize the transplant, and give bigger success chances to this revolutionary technique. A real hope for regenerative medicine!

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