"Skin Printers" Could Become Biological Inkjets of the BattlefieldS

Gaping battlefield flesh wounds that take off more than 4 cm of skin can't heal without aid, so researchers at Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine created a fantastical system that literally prints skin on demand.

Using the same "fluid-based inkjet technology" found in those freebie printers that big box chains throw in with laptop purchases, the system should eventually be capable of printing out sheets of skin that medics could apply to burns and other wounds out in the field.

The printer head creates the emergency skin much in the same way two-part epoxy glues activate when mixed together. With the skin printer, one chamber contains skin cells and collagen; the other blood coagulants. When they are mixed they react and form fibrin. The layer is then topped with keratinocyte skin cells, also via printer head, and the patient is on to a speedier recovery than could be expected with present-day techniques.

As with most things that trip the light fantastic and blow our minds, however, this is only in testing for now. Mice patients are the only beneficiaries, with pigs up next (on account of their very human-like epidermis). [Clinical Congress via Technology Review via DVICE]