Home Research & Education US Army researcher working on 3D-printed skin

US Army researcher working on 3D-printed skin

The skin, the body’s largest organ, protects against chemical influences. Priscilla Lee of DEVCOM CBC researched 3D printing of skin for scientific studies. With a $40,000 grant, she collaborated with the University of Delaware and used advanced 3D printing technology to create skin-like tissue for chemical testing.

“My division chief, Dr. Kyle Glover, read an article in The Wall Street Journal about how researchers at the University of Delaware 3D-printing lung cells were,” Lee said.

Dr. Glover then arranged a meeting with Dr. April Kloxin, Dr. Cathy Fromen and PhD student Bree Huntington. Inspired by this meeting, Lee applied for a seedling grant through the DEVCOM CBC’s QUEST program, which funds research projects with up to $100,000 in financial support.

Lee received a grant of 40,000 dollars for her project. With this budget, the collaboration with the University of Delaware began to develop a skin model using 3D printing. The researchers used Inventia Life Science’s state-of-the-art Rastrum 3D printer and developed a process to combine cell structures and biochemical anchors.

The resulting product was not real human skin tissue, but a tissue model with skin-like properties. These models were exposed to mustard gas tests at the DEVCOM CBC research campus in Aberdeen Proving Ground to observe blister formation at the cellular level. Lee plans to compare their results with historical skin exposure data from the 1940s and 1950s.

The results confirmed the success of the QUEST program, which allows scientists to provide proof of concept with seed money. Based on her findings, Lee received additional internal funding for research on 3D printing of skin and eyes in collaboration with other scientists and engineers at the Center.

In addition, the Defense Threat Reduction Agency is funding Lee’s work to integrate immune cells into bio-printed skin and lung models, which continues a collaboration with the University of Delaware. Lee also plans to explore opportunities to collaborate with Wake Forest University, a longtime partner of the center in research on organ-on-a-chip technologies.

“I am so happy to see how starting with a research budget of $40,000 could lead to all this further research with all these great research partners,” Lee said.

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