Researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Delhi have successfully 3D bioprinted human skin. The bioprinted skin produced in the lab by the team is already being used by ITC Ltd for experiments.

What are the uses of bioprinted skin?
The bioprinted skin model will have wide applications in testing cosmetics. It can also reduce and probably even replace testing on animals.

It can also be used for testing dermatology drugs on human skin and at a future date even help in testing drugs for personalised medicine.

Testing on animals banned in European Commission
The European Commission has prohibited testing finished cosmetic products and cosmetic ingredients on animals. It even prohibits marketing of finished cosmetic products and ingredients in the European Union.

Structure of skin
The skin is composed of two important layers — the inner dermis (made of fibroblasts) and the outer epidermis (keratinocytes, melanocytes). The junction between the two layers is not flat but is undulatory or wavy. The undulatory morphology is important as it provides biochemical cues and mechanical support to the epidermis layer, provides structural stability to the skin by making the two layers adhere to each other, and not allow cells to cross the junction.

Unlike the currently available tissue-engineered skin equivalents, the team led by Sourabh Ghosh from the institute’s Department of Textile Technology was successful in creating this wavy junction in the bioprinted skin model. The results were published in the journal Bioprinting. The study was funded by ITC Ltd.

Not affected by shrinkage
The bioprinted skin also retained the original dimension without any shrinkage for up to three weeks. Traditionally, collagen used for developing skin constructs start shrinking within a few weeks thus affecting the morphology. Testing on such skin constructs therefore cannot be carried out beyond one week.

 (Adapted from The Hindu)