Engineering 3D bio-printed physiologically accurate human skin for basic and clinical research

Grantee: Jonathan Brewer, Associate professor, University of Southern Denmark, Denmark

Amount: DKK 3,972,150      

This project focuses on development of 3D bio-printed physiologically accurate human skin, which has important applications both clinically and for research.

3D printed human skin can be used in pharmacological and cosmetic testing, disease modelling, basic skin biology research, but also it can potentially save lives by providing skin grafts for burn or accident victims.

However, the current 3D printed skin is frail and prone to rupturing and does not recapitulate the native tissue. By combining quantitative imaging of intracellular junctions and cytoskeletal components at the sub-cellular, cellular and tissue levels in a rapid in vivo model and human 3D skin cell culture with direct measurements of tissue stiffness, we will deliver the most detailed description yet of the mechanical regulation and barrier properties of the skin.

Next, we will determine how the mechanical properties of skin change upon application of physical stimuli and if we could imitate the mechanical response by molecular perturbations.

Finally, we will identify and verify novel molecular players that set the mechanical properties of skin by unbiased single-cell sequencing of fragile and elastic tissues.

These results will be used to develop artificial 3D skin which more accurately represent human skin than current models. This interdisciplinary proposal is a crucial step forward in entering an era where animal experiments and transplants are replaced by synthetic organs printed for patients on demand.