El Paso, Texas (KDBC) — A revolutionary research project at the University of Texas at El Paso could soon mean medical miracles for hospitals across the country. Scientists at the school are using a common ink jet printer to make skin tissue to regenerate the skin.
"What we do is that we use 3d printing but instead of making parts out of plastic or metals we use your own cells and tissues to build 3d structures," UTEP Bio-medical professor Dr. Thomas Boland said.
According to Dr. Boland the process of making new skin consists of printing using a combination of collagen, human cells and biomedical paper.
"We take an inkjet printer and we empty out the ink of it and then we fill it in with materials that are printable these materials could be your cells which are very small so they can fit through the nasals and we lay out those biological inks one layer at the time and create it all in three dimensions," Boland added.
After the procedure the printed skin is then inserted in the damaged area of a body for regeneration. This research is being conducted at several universities in the U.S. with the goal of helping treat skin diseases and injuries.
"there is not in the market any material that or any graph that really helps to regenerate the skin for diabetic people so we focus on those people and also on burns burned skin," UTEP student Dr. Maria Yañez said.
Different tests have been conducted on mice and the results are promising.
"We for example looked at volume retention of our fat tissues that we printed in the lab and it looks that they take very well so it's very encouraging," Boland said.
Even though there's still a long way for its implementation on humans. This UTEP group is not giving up until it happens.
"We are focusing in health problems and we want to improve to offer a better quality of life to the people so it’s what we are trying to do here," Dr. Yañez added.
"There are not enough donors the waiting list gets longer so there's a huge need that bio-printing might fill some of this need." Dr. Boland concluded.
Experts say research could continue for up to 10 years but he's optimistic about it and hopes it will help those that might need it soon. The program is currently being funded by U.S. Federal grants.