Apr 02, 2023

This 3D Printing Pen Paints "PAINT" Into Wounds to Speed Healing, Reduce Infection Risk

Researchers from Nanjing University and its Medical School, working with the Suzhou Institute of Nano-Tech and Nano-Bionics and Singapore's Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), have come up with a new way to help heal wounds more quickly — by applying "PAINT" using a 3D printing pen.

"The treatment of cutaneous wounds involving complex biological processes has become a significant public health concern worldwide," the research team explains of the driving force behind its somewhat unusual research. "Here, we developed an efficient extracellular vesicle (EV) ink to regulate the inflammatory micro-environment and promote vascular regeneration for wound healing."

A liquid which can be applied to a wound to help it heal isn't a new concept, but the team's approach is novel in both how it helps and in how it's applied. Dubbed the Portable Bioactive Ink for Tissue Healing, or PAINT, the liquid is derived from macrophages and a sodium alginate precursor which, when mixed, encourages the body's own healing cells to migrate to the wound site and proliferate — reducing inflammation and speeding healing.

Rather than just smearing it over the patient, though, the team's application method turns to the world of 3D printing — using a 3D printing pen, usually used to squeeze liquefied plastic through an extrusion nozzle to create solid shapes or touch-up more complex creations built on a computer-controlled 3D printer, to "print" the ink directly where it needs to be.

"Through integration with a 3D printing pen," the researchers explain of their approach, which mixes the gel at the pen's tip from two reservoirs, "the platform enables EV-Gel to be applied to wound sites having arbitrary shapes and sizes with geometric matches for tissue repairment." The treatment's efficacy appear to be proven in murine models, too: mice treated with the pen-applied PAINT were reportedly further along in the healing process after 12 days than those left untreated.

The team's work has been published in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces under closed-access terms