IIT Delhi 3D prints human skin

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  • The model can reduce and even replace testing cosmetics on animals
  • Researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Delhi have successfully 3D bioprinted human skin models that have certain anatomically relevant structural, mechanical and biochemical features similar to native human skin.
  • The bioprinted skin produced in the lab by the team is already being used by ITC Ltd for experiments.
  • It can also reduce and probably even replace testing on animals.
  • It can also be used for testing dermatology drugs on human skin and at a future date even help in testing drugs for personalised medicine.


  • The European Commission has prohibited testing finished cosmetic products and cosmetic ingredients on animals. It even prohibits marketing of finished cosmetic products and ingredients in the European Union.
  • The skin is composed of two important layers — the inner dermis (made of fibroblasts) and the outer epidermis (keratinocytes, melanocytes). The junction between the two layers is not flat but is undulatory or wavy.
  • The undulatory morphology is important as it provides biochemical cues and mechanical support to the epidermis layer, provides structural stability to the skin by making the two layers adhere to each other, and not allow cells to cross the junction.
  • Unlike the currently available tissue-engineered skin equivalents, the team led by Sourabh Ghosh from the institute’s Department of Textile Technology was successful in creating this wavy junction in the bioprinted skin model. The results were published in the journal Bioprinting. The study was funded by ITC Ltd.
  • The undulatory junction was designed using 3D CAD and 10 layers of dermis were constructed through bioprinting followed by eight layers of epidermis. “We designed the pattern so that both layers fit and the interface had a wavy pattern,” says Prof. Ghosh. Silk bioink mixed with fibroblasts was used for growing the dermis, while bioink mixed with keratinocytes and melanocytes was used for growing the epidermis.
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