3D bioprinted skin often misses pigmentation. This is because researchers need a more reliable method of 3D printing with multiple types of cells.
In a Masters thesis from University of Texas El Paso (UTEP), postgraduate Corinne Nicole Wittmann previously considered the possibility of 3D bioprinted pigmentation. In experiments with collagen, the 3D bioprinted samples showed positive results. However, Wittmann’s research warranted further exploration to discover whether these samples could be layered together with other skin-cell types.
Another proof on concept study, this time led by a team a the Agency for Science, Technology and Research’s (A*STAR’s) Singapore Institute of Manufacturing Technology (SIMTech), has added another layer to 3D bioprinted pigment.
As in Whittmann’s thesis, the A*STAR approach focuses on the inkjet method of 3D printing. The main difference in the latest study however, is that the A*STAR team combines pigment cells, the melanocytes, with the two other types of structural cells needed to make the skin – keratinocytes (top layer of the skin) and fibroblasts (connective tissue).
Using a RegenHU BioFactory system, the A*Star team 3D prints cell-laden inks on a droplet-on-demand basis. Not only does this facilitate mixing between the three cell types, according to lead author Wei Long Ng, “the bioprinting technique allows the manipulation of pore sizes within the 3D collagen-fibroblast matrices, to fabricate hierarchical porous structures that are clearly seen in the native skin tissues.”