The BioMask was developed using a customized, bioengineered skin substitute in combination with a wound dressing layer that can snugly fit onto a facial wound to regenerate skin, according to the researchers.
“For patients who suffer from disfiguring facial wounds, the BioMask could one day be used as an effective treatment that would greatly improve their quality of life,” Sang Jin Lee, associate professor of regenerative medicine at WFIRM and lead author on the study, said in a press release.
BioMask is flexible and easy to handle. It was created using 3D bioprinting that was customized with a face CT image. Wound dressing material and cell-laden hydrogels were made by the printer and placed layer-by-layer on the mask to create skin constructs. As a result, the BioMask has three layers, including a porous polyurethane support layer, a bioengineered epidermis and a dermis layer.
Skin injuries or burns to the face can be difficult to treat, according to the WFIRM scientists. The different contours and complex movements of the muscles in the face make it difficult to treat wounds and burns using skin grafts and skin substitutes, both of which can lead to scarring, infection or graft failure.
Researchers wanted to simulate skin regeneration on the face, so they placed the BioMask on a facial skin wound bed that was created on a pre-made face-shaped structure implanted under the skin of a mouse. After seven days of having the mask, the polyurethane layer was removed and tissue was regenerated.
“The BioMask could have great clinical impact for patients by providing effective and rapid restoration of facial skin following serious burn or injury,” Dr. Anthony Atala, co-author on the paper and director of WFIRM, said. “The bioprinting technology, combined with the face CT image, utilized for this concept allows for the fabrication of a personalized shape of a patient’s face so that we can take better care of the wound.”
The research was published in the journal Bioprinting and was supported in part by the National Institutes of Health.