Home pagePress monitoringLab-grown 3D skin grafts could be applied like biological...

Lab-grown 3D skin grafts could be applied like biological clothing

Date: 6.2.2023 

While bioengineered skin holds great promise for people such as burn victims, the material has so far only been produced in flat sheets. Now, however, scientists have devised a method of growing it in 3D forms, which could be slipped onto the body like a piece of clothing.

Kredit: Alberto Pappalardo and Hasan Erbil Abaci / Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons.Although flat sheets of bioengineered skin may work OK for grafting onto relatively smooth, featureless body parts, they don't work well for more complex areas, like the hands. In such cases, multiple sheets usually have to be stitched together to accommodate all the nooks and crannies – it's a laborious and time-consuming process.

Led by Asst. Prof. Hasan Erbil Abaci, a team at Columbia University set out to develop a more accommodating alternative. In lab tests performed so far, 3D grafts made of human skin cells were successfully applied to the hind legs of mice. The surgery itself took only about 10 minutes, and the grafts were fully integrated into the surrounding mouse skin with four weeks. Additionally, the one-piece grafts were found to be mechanically stronger than if they had been made from multiple stitched-together sheets.

Needless to say, much more research needs to be conducted before human trials can take place. Nonetheless, it is hoped that patients may eventually be able to receive such grafts, grown from their own cells. It's even possible that the technology could provide a better alternative to face transplants, which currently utilize facial tissue harvested from cadavers.

"Three-dimensional skin constructs that can be transplanted as 'biological clothing' would have many advantages," said Abaci. "They would dramatically minimize the need for suturing, reduce the length of surgeries, and improve aesthetic outcomes."

Image source: Alberto Pappalardo and Hasan Erbil Abaci / Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons.





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