Spanish researchers have built a 3D bioprinter that creates human skin, one layer at a time. The primary application is cosmetics and drug testing, finally bringing an end to animal testing. If tests deem it biocompatible, the printed skin could also prove very useful as a replacement for burned victims, for instance.
The prototype printer was specially designed to layer cells such that the end product mimics the human skin as closely as possible. The printed skin features an external layer for protection (the epidermis), a thick layer in the middle that acts as the dermis, and finally another layer made of fibroblast cells. The latter layer produces collagen, the main structural protein found in skin and hair which gives skin its elasticity and mechanical strength.