Inspired by a standard office inkjet printer, U.S. researchers have rigged up a device that can spray skin cells directly onto burn victims, quickly protecting and healing their wounds as an alternative to skin grafts.
They have mounted the device in a frame that can be wheeled over a patient in a hospital bed. A laser can take a reading of the wound’s size and shape so that a layer of healing skin cells can be precisely applied, said the team at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. “We literally print the cells directly onto the wound,” said student Kyle Binder, who helped design the device. “We can put specific cells where they need to go.”
They are working with the U.S. Armed Forces Institute of Regenerative Medicine to come up with ways to help soldiers wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan. It could be used to close various types of wounds as well as burns. “You have to give a lot of credit to the cells. When you put them into the wound, they know what to do,” Binder said.