Module «Skinfactory»

3D Skin Substitutes for Understanding and Treating Scarring and Fibrosis

Bio-engineered human 3D skin-substitute.

E. Reichmann (UZH/ Kispi), O. Distler (UZH/Balgrist/USZ), O. Göksel (ETH), U. auf dem Keller (ETH), L. Sommer (UZH), H.-D. Beer (UZH/USZ), C. Schiestl (UZH/Kispi), J. Plock (USZ), S. Werner (ETH), E. Mazza (ETH)

This subproject focuses on certain basic aspects of the biology of human skin which are then translated into, and tested on, bio-engineered (clinically applicable) dermo-epidermal skin equivalents. In particular, we define, isolate and expand distinct fibroblast lineages of the human dermis and investigate their influence on scarring, skin pigmentation and vascularization of bio-engineered dermo-epidermal skin substitutes.
Another aim of this subproject is to develop and characterize disease-specific bio-engineered 3D human skin-substitutes using cells from patients with Systemic Sclerosis to study potential molecule-targeted anti-fibrotic therapies.


Skin Patch (Credits: S. Fox)

M. Meboldt (ETH), E. Reichmann, (UZH/Kispi), M. Levesque (UZH/USZ), R. Dummer (UZH/USZ), E. Mazza (ETH), O. Distler (UZH/Balgrist/USZ)

Bioengineered human skin has an highly increasing demand in medicine and research for wound coverage, drug screening, in vitro assays, and the investigation of skin diseases. Currently, the skin production is based on a manual labor intensive fabrications process which requires highly skilled personnel. To make bioengineered skin more widely available, the goal of this project is to develop devices that are capable of producing bioengineered skin in a cheap, efficient and reliable way. In our research we are focusing on technical solutions for the automation for cell proliferations and patch forming. The availability of a “SkinCreator” will accelerate and support ongoing translational research projects and at the same time the results will reduce the need for animal experiments and costs.

In situ Bioengineered Skin for Chronic Wounds

Biomaterial Deposition
In situ biomaterial deposition into a chronic wound (Illustration by C. De Simio-Hilton)

N. Lindenblatt (UZH/USZ), S. Ferguson (ETH), M. Calcagni (UZH/USZ)

Depending on the type of sore, treatments for chronic wounds vary from simple bandaging to skin grafting, cell sheet technology, or biocompatible wound dressings. These solutions generally have high relapse rates and are extremely expensive. To cover such an urgent, global medical need, we are currently developing a personalized, bioactive dressing that can be applied in situ, or directly into the patient’s wound.  Therefore, our aim is to develop a scaffold, which will include a cost effective, customized bioactive biomaterial. The addition of the patient’s own cells will allow for tissue regeneration without the risk of rejection or adverse immune response. Autologous nanofat and a laboratory grown epidermal layer should allow our proposed treatment to meet the demand of the individual patient’s wound profile and be especially beneficial for joint regions due to the biomaterial’s flexibility.