Time and money, one of the enemies of skin grafts, could soon be a thing of the past:
Now, a team from Germany’s Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft science institute have created a way to mass-produce artificial skin, complete with blood vessels, that can be used for grafts, plastic surgery, or even cosmetics testing.
The basic skin production system, which Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft hopes to start selling next year, can produce 5,000 little swatches of human skin a month, for a total of over 600 square inches of mass-produced tissue. Each 0.12-square-inch section of skin would cost around $49 to produce, far less than the current cost.
The system, which should be available in 2010, is fully automated, with computers controlling the solution that the skin grows in, monitoring the vats for infection, guiding the blade that cuts the swatches, and even testing the quality of the final product. So far, this project has generated 19 patents for Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft.
In addition to providing new skin to burn victims, these swatches can also take the place of animals in medical and cosmetic testing. Also, since the swatches can be made to contain blood vessels as well as skin cells, scientists can run circulatory as well as skin-related experiments on them.
Photo and words via popsci.com.
Thanks to LBA for the tip!