RCSI researcher working on 3D printer

How 3D printing could improve wound healing

  • Research

The successful healing of wounds relies on the development of new blood vessels and the inhibition of scar tissue. A study from RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences explores new ways to enhance these elements of healing.

Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) is a natural healing substance contained in blood. Existing research indicates that while PRP helps to heal wounds, scarring can still occur which can limit the success of the healing process.

The study, led by researchers at the Tissue Engineering Research Group (TERG) and Science Foundation Ireland’s (SFI) AMBER Centre based at RCSI’s Department of Anatomy and Regenerative Medicine, extracted PRP from the blood and explored ways of utilising it to 3D print an implant that could successfully repair tissue and treat difficult-to-heal skin wounds.

In the study, PRP was extracted from the blood of human donors and the PRP was combined with a biomaterial matrix to from a bioink which was then capable of being 3D-printed to form the PRP activated implant. The implant was found to enable the development of new blood vessels and the reduction of scarring, leading to more successful wound healing.

Published in Advanced Functional Materials, funding for this project came from Science Foundation Ireland under the M-ERA.NET EU network and the Advanced Materials and BioEngineering Research Centre and the EU BlueHuman Interreg Atlantic Area Project.

The RCSI research team collaborated with researchers from the 3Bs Research Group at University of Minho and ICVS/3Bs Associate Laboratory in Portugal, the Trinity Centre for Biomedical Engineering and AMBER, the SFI Centre for Advanced Materials and Bioengineering Research.

RCSI is committed to achieving a better and more sustainable future through the UN Sustainable Development Goals.