A team of researchers from the Elche Institute for Research, Development and Innovation in Health Biotechnology (IDiBE) of the Miguel Hernández University (UMH) of Elche (Alicante) are developing a model of innervated human skin using 3D printing to understand mechanisms that cause various pathologies that affect the sensory nervous system and whose symptoms manifest on the skin.

The professor in the Area of ​​Molecular and Cellular Biology at the UMH and IDiBE researcher Asia Fernández has explained that, until now, skin obtained by bioprinting has been used for the treatment of large burns, but it has not been included so far in the sensory system. , as indicated by the academic institution in a statement.

This project seeks to connect the two systems, the skin and the nervous system, in order to help understand the molecular mechanisms responsible for sensory pathologies. Specifically, they try to unite the nervous-sensory system, that is, “connect and innervate this skin in order to give the skin sensory capacity.”

“This is a model that could be very useful not only to understand the molecular mechanisms of dermatological pathologies, but also to study the toxicity of certain compounds, drugs, even cosmetics, to see that they do not cause irritation or alter the skin” , Fernández pointed out.

Thus, he pointed out that, from the point of view of skin pathologies, such as psoriasis or pruritus, this research will help discover new drugs that may be useful. The IDiBE team at the UMH has proven that these phenomena occur with the intervention of skin sensitization of the peripheral nervous system.

Currently, the extraction of skin cells is being carried out through human samples, obtained from surgeries that allow sufficient quantities to be obtained to obtain printed skin. The challenge is to innervate this skin with human sensory neurons obtained through the transdifferentiation of fibroblasts, a cell type present in the skin. Obtaining skin through 3D printing allows us to reduce the use of animals and create a system similar to humans.

“The results obtained with this study system would be more easily transferable to the clinic, and it would reduce the high failure rate that we find when we try to extrapolate the results obtained in animals to humans,” highlighted the researcher.