One of the technologies to come out of a research project funded by Armed Forces Institute of Regenerative Medicine (AFIRM) to apply regenerative medicine to battlefield injuries is a 3D printer that prints, or applies, skin cells onto burn wounds. The way it works is a scanner determines the wound’s terrain, including size and depth, providing a blueprint of how the printer will fill the full-thickness wound. The printer, armed with two types of skin cells taken from a small biopsy would then be applied and cover the wound.
The big benefit of the technology is that clinicians caring for burn wounds would only need a biopsy of uninjured skin one-tenth the size of the burn to grow the skin cells needed to fill the wound with skin printing.
The technology showed promising results in animal studies but needs funding for future development in humans, according to John Jackson, Ph.D., associate professor at the Institute for Regenerative Medicine at Wake Forest University School of Medicine. Dr. Jackson is a focus leader of the genitourinary focus area for AFIRM 2, the next phase of the research. While many institutions are involved in AFIRM 2, Wake Forest was the administrative lead for AFIRM 1, as one of two consortia, and is the administrative lead for AFIRM 2, according to Dr. Jackson.