Discussion Board

Dividing cells: immortal, cancerous and from a 3D bioprinter???No unread replies.No replies.Why Does Mitosis Matter to Me?The skin is the largest organ in the human body and the first layer of the body’s defense system. Keeping the skin barrier intact minimizes the risk of infection and illness. But if the barrier is breached and the skin is wounded, what then? Undoubtedly, it would be beneficial for skin to heal as rapidly as possible. So, what if, like something out of a futuristic sci-fi movie, you could heal a skin wound in just minutes with a quick zap from a handheld 3D skin printer? Well, this technology is no longer science fiction and the clinical potential of such a device for burn victims, combat injuries and those with diabetic ulcers represents next-generation medicine that is truly revolutionary.Imagine you accidentally cut your arm. In most cases, you clean the wound and apply a bandage. If it is a deep cut, maybe you then head to the ER for sutures. A more severe wound that damages all three skin layers (epidermis, dermis, hypodermis), might require a graft, which involves transplanting healthy skin from another body part. Without enough healthy skin, as is the case with severe burn victims, cadaver skin may be transplanted. Or bioengineered human skin, commonly derived from newborn penile foreskin cells- yes, I said penile foreskin- may also be used. Another option is skin substitutes engineered from materials like shark cartilage, cow tendon, and silicone. However, these graft alternatives are costly, time consuming, and do not stimulate the healing process as productively as one’s own skin cells.A handheld 3D bioprinterhttps://3dprintingindustry.com/news/researchers-develop-handheld-3d-bioprinter-for-treating-large-skin-burns-168452/ (Links to an external site.)In the near future, the new gold standard in wound repair may likely be this handheld device that makes skin from a patient’s own cells. Almost like a hot glue gun, the 3D printer lays down a biofilm that contains normal skin components: cells and proteins like collagen (provides structure) and fibrin (contributes to blood clotting) forming a framework for new skin to grow. The ‘gun’ has been tested on mice and pigs, and within minutes, new skin set in place of wounds. Though clinical trials in humans are needed, these devices have the potential to eliminate grafts, which create additional wounds, and reduce lab costs related to bioengineering skin.Our well-being depends on the health of our skin and its ability to heal. Not only does 3D skin printing enhance healing capabilities, the technology gets us closer to growing other organs for transplant purposes, maybe one day even rendering the transplant list obsolete.Keep in mind, when we are talking about growing skin and/or organs, we are talking about cells undergoing asexual reproduction- mitosis. This process replicates certain types of cells- one cell divides to become two identical cells. So, your skin wound heals- the damaged cells are replaced by new skin cells. Also remember that when cell division is uncontrolled, this can lead to cancer. Cancer is unregulated mitosis (see section 8.6). Most of us know someone that has been impacted by cancer of some type. Understanding mitosis and the cell cycle will give you a better understanding what is going on with cancer. If you have every donated to the American Cancer Society, for example, some of the donation aimed towards research goes to studying the cell cycle, which includes mitosis.Think about this:Although in vivo (inside the body) methods of growing mammal skin is relatively new, in vitro methods (outside the body) have been around for decades. And recently, in an attempt to study a viral disease called fibropapillomatosis (-oma means tumor, think carcinoma), which causes tumor growth on endangered green sea turtles, reptile skin has been grown in the lab for the first time. Though not quite at the point where snake and alligator skin is being lab-produced for leather boots and handbags, this technology is advancing rather quickly.Fibropapillomatosis on a green sea turtle.https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2018/06/cure-common-turtle-cancer-takes-lesson-human-cancers (Links to an external site.)Prompt 1: Do some research. Which do you feel best justifies research focusing on the growth of reptile skin in the lab?Reduction of animal testing (cosmetic, pharmaceutical, chemical industries) and/or harvesting of animal products (leather alternative for the fashion industry).Funds should only be allotted to research methods focused on growing human skin.Animal conservation, i.e. saving endangered species like sea turtles or treating skin diseases like the chytrid fungus attacking frogs worldwide.It does not matter to me.And think about this too:The very question of whether a person (or his/her relatives) should be compensated for being the source of tissue/organs (collections of cells) is very much a topic of debate today. Various court cases have decided the issue both for and against. If you are not familiar with the legacy of Henrietta Lacks and her immortal cells, well, here is your chance to get acquainted.Henrietta and HeLa Cells.Prompt 2: Do some research on HeLa cells as well as the current practices of organ/tissue/body fluid donation.  Do you believe the family of Henrietta Lacks should be compensated for the contribution she made to science, even in her death? What constitutes a ‘transplant’? What happens to tissues/organs/cellular material after a surgery or amputation, or the delivery of a baby? Are they destroyed? Used for something else? Do you even have to consent?As always, select the prompt that interests you most (you do not need to research both) and make sure to support your viewpoint by citing your resources.

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