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Soylent Green Prints People!

Try not to think of some chilling nightmare of failed human experimentation. Instead, think back to that crazy late 90's film, Fifth Element. An early scene features a device that literally re-fabricates Milla Jovovich from nothing more than a charred hand. That's exactly what this device is supposed to do. Well, maybe not exactly. So far it can only print out skin cells, not entire bodies. Still, it's a step in the right direction.

Researchers at Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine presented the results from their bio-printer at a recent annual Clinical Congress of the American College of Surgeons. It uses the same inkjet technology found in standard color printers to lay down a mix of skin cells and coagulants. A second layer of cells, called keratinocytes, is added to form the outer skin.

So far, tests on mice have shown wounds heal a lot faster when printed with a fresh coat of skin. The next round of testing will use pigs. They're great human analogues, as many a jilted girlfriend can tell you. Hopefully, we can start printing out Milla Jovoviches in the very near future.

[source Slashgear, Technology Review]