Researchers develop 3D printable wound dressings based on fruit

Researchers from the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (AUTh), Greece, have developed 3D printable direct and indirect patches with wound-healing capabilities. 

In an article published in the journal Pharmaceutics3D printable inks based on pectin, a naturally occurring substance found in berries, apples, and other fruit, which form free‐standing transparent films designed to treat shallow wounds and ulcers.

“The application of traditional dressings, like cotton bandages or gauzes, absorb the moisture contained by the wound, leading to dehydration of the wound surface, and subsequently decreasing the healing rate,” the research states.

“Free‐standing transparent films that disintegrate upon contact with aqueous media were developed via 3D bioprinting [where] the antimicrobial and wound‐healing activities of the fabricated dressings were effectually enhanced by the incorporation of particles.”

3D printed wound-dressings 

According to the AUTh team, alternative dressings made from polymers forming films, foams or gels have been frequently used as it provides the optimum conditions for wound‐healing. This is due to its ability to maintain the moisture of a wound which enables pain relief for the patient. Furthermore, traditional dressings can become toxic if not changed within certain time frames.

Thus, wound‐dressing systems were developed that could provide an adequate moisture environment under air and water-tight trauma, otherwise known as occlusive conditions. This dressing also uses natural, non‐toxic bioinks including materials such as apple pectin, manuka honey, and propolis extract, a resin-like material made by bees, to avoid infection and contamination.

This was mixed with dermal fibroblasts cells, which are responsible for generating connective tissue. From these ingredients, the patches were produced using the CELLINK INKREDIBLE 3D bioprinter. This led to an assessment of the patches on shallow wounds on its cytocompatibility, antimicrobial activity and in vitro wound-healing properties. The researchers observed that the antimicrobial and wound‐healing properties of the fabricated films were enhanced by the addition of propolis.

Theoretical dimensions of the patches (a), experimental dimensions of the 3D printed patches after drying (b), and their difference (c), as it is calculated by Equation. Photo via the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki.
Theoretical dimensions of the patches (a), experimental dimensions of the 3D printed
patches after drying (b), and their difference (c), as it is calculated by equation. Photo via the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki.

Healing with additive manufacturing 

Following experimentation of various solutions, the study concluded that “3D printing is a significant platform that can be used for the production of films and patches in complex geometries, in a controlled manner. This fact makes the use of this technology advantageous compared to traditional techniques for the production of patches, like the solvent‐casting method.”

Previously, 3D bioprinting methods were leveraged to create a handheld 3D bioprinter capable of printing skin cells to treat deep-thickness wound on burn victims. This system deposits epidermal and dermal cells as well as a mixture of bio-neutral polymers and proteins for even distribution of the cells layers.

Optical microscopy images of 3D printed pectin films with:(a) 0%, (b) 2.5%, 5%, (c) 10%, (d) 20% and (e,f) 30% w/w CCP. Image via the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki.
Optical microscopy images of 3D printed pectin films with:(a) 0%, (b) 2.5%, 5%, (c) 10%, (d) 20% and (e,f) 30% w/w cyclodextrin/propolis extract inclusion complexes. Image via the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki.

Development of Bio‐Active Patches Based on Pectin for the Treatment of Ulcers and Wounds Using 3D‐Bioprinting Technology is co-authored by Eleftherios G. Andriotis, Georgios K. Eleftheriadis, Christina Karavasil, and Dimitrios G. Fatouros. 

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Featured image shows a nurse bandaging an injury. Photo via Freepik. 



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