The skin, which covers the surface of the human body, is its largest organ. It is the first organ to show changes resulting from organic or physiological activity. It is especially common for diabetic patients to suffer from skin diseases or infections. Recently, a POSTECH research team succeeded in creating a 3D artificial skin allowing the observation of skin diseases in diabetic patients.
A research team led by Prof. Dong-Woo Cho and Minjun Ahn from the Department of Mechanical Engineering at POSTECH and Prof. Byoung Soo Kim from the School of Biomedical Convergence Engineering at Pusan National University produced successfully presented an in vitro diseased skin model that exhibits the pathophysiological characteristics of type 2 diabetes based on a 3D cell printing system. These research results were recently published in Biomaterials.
Despite ongoing research to produce artificial skin with 3D cell printing technology, artificial skin exhibiting the pathological process present in native skin has yet to be reported.
Inspired by the interaction between the epidermis and skin cells present in real skin, the research team hypothesized that when normal keratinocytes interact with the dermal layer made up of diabetic fibroblasts, they differentiate into diabetic epidermis. To prove it, a diabetic artificial skin with skin wounds based on the 3D printing technique was made from each cell.
In this diabetic artificial skin, a slow reepithelialization, typical characteristic of diabetic skin, was observed. In addition, when the layer of diabetic adipose tissue containing blood vessels was added, insulin resistance, adipocyte hypertrophy, pro-inflammatory response and vascular dysfunction, which are commonly seen in diabetes, have been confirmed.
“Thanks to cellular 3D printing, we can now observe skin diseases in vitro, without experiencing them,” the researchers noted. “We anticipate that this will be a way to replace animal models that have traditionally been used to observe skin diseases. It is significant that its applicability as a disease model for the development of new drugs has been proven.”
This research was conducted with the support of the Creative Research Program and the Nano-New Materials Core Technology Development Program of the National Research Foundation of Korea.
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Material provided by Pohang University of Science and Technology (POSTECH). Note: Content can be changed for style and length.