Scientists make fabricated human skin pigmentation breakthrough

Researchers from Singapore discover how to use 3D bio printing to control the distribution of melanin-producing skin cells to produce human-like skin pigmentation

Scientists have developed a new method that enables them to control pigmentation in fabricated human skin.

The researchers from A*STAR's Singapore Institute of Manufacturing Technology (SIMTech) and the Singapore Centre for 3D Printing (SC3DP) at Nanyang Technological University, have published a new paper Biofabrication, in which they present their findings.

The paper outlines how the team have successfully used 3D bio printing to control the distribution of melanin-producing skin cells or melanocytes on a biomimetic tissue substrate to create human-like skin pigmentation.

Current engineered skin, commonly used in chemical testing for cosmetics, often lack complex features such as skin pigmentation, sweat glands or hair follicles.

Wei Long Ng said: “3D bioprinting is an excellent platform for the precise deposition of biomaterials and living cells to make biomimetic skin, in large volumes with great repeatability.

“However, non-uniform skin pigmentation is often seen, and this remains a huge challenge to be solved.

"Our aim with this project was to use this method to demonstrate the feasibility of making 3D in-vitro pigmented human skin constructs, with uniform skin pigmentation."

The scientists used a two-step bioprinting method to create hierarchical porous collagen-based structures that resemble the skin’s dermal region.

This method enabled the standardised distribution of printed cells in a highly-controlled way, compared with the result of a manual casting approach.

Wei Long added: “Furthermore, 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.

“In contrast, tuning the skin microstructure within the 3D collagen-fibroblast matrices using the manual-casting approach is extremely challenging."

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