While scientists can grow the epidermis, the outer layer of skin, in the lab, a major challenge for researchers today is growing functional, full thickness skin, which provides strength and flexibility and contains blood vessels. Wallace is a senior author on a recent study applying 3D printing techniques to generate a skin-like structure that supports the growth of dermal fibroblasts found in the inner layers of skin. The study, published in the journal Biofabrication, presents a 3D printing platform that could be explored to engineer functional skin tissue. “To facilitate regeneration of skin requires a 3D structure containing materials that can support development of appropriate cells through the provision of a composition and physical environment that promotes healing,” Wallace explains. With the skin-like scaffolds built, the researchers introduced the scaffolds to skin cells encapsulated in fibrin gel. The team’s initial analyses of the lab-grown skin also included measuring the thickness of the epidermal layer and analysing the differentiation of the epidermal layer and extracellular matrix deposition of the dermal layer using histology analyses and immunostaining. Now, the researchers are working with their collaborators to determine the best way to deliver and use this multi-material skin regeneration platform in vivo, including tailoring its structure and composition to different types of injury.

Read the full article at Physics World