The new technology, called Tissue Nanotransfection (TNT), can repair injured tissue and restore the function of aging tissue like organs, blood vessels and nerve cells.
“By using our novel nanochip technology, injured or compromised organs can be replaced. We have shown that skin is a fertile land where we can grow the elements of any organ that is declining,” said Chandan Sen, director of Ohio State’s Center for Regenerative Medicine and Cell Based Therapies and co-leader on the study, in a press release.
Researchers studied the new TNT technology in mice and pigs. They successfully reprogrammed skin cells to become vascular cells in badly injured legs with a lack of blood flow. After a week, active blood vessels began to appear in the leg and by the second week, the leg had been saved. The TNT technology has also been used to reprogram skin cells in the body to become nerve cells that are injected into mice with brain injuries to help them recover from stroke.
“This is difficult to imagine, but it is achievable, successfully working about 98% of the time. With this technology, we can convert skin cells into elements of any organ with just one touch. This process only takes less than a second and is non-invasive, and then you’re off,” said Sen. “The chip does not stay with you and the reprogramming of the cell starts. Our technology keeps the cells in the body under immune surveillance, so immune suppression is not necessary.”
The TNT technology is a nanotechnology-based chip that is designed to deliver cargo to adult cells in the body. Another component is the design of specific biological cargo for cell conversion. Cargo is delivered by a small electrical charge applied to the device that the patient can barely feel. The cargo is able to convert adult cells to a different type of cell if it is delivered using the chip.
Using TNT technology doesn’t require the need for laboratory-based procedures. It is a non-invasive treatment that can be administered at the point of care.
“The concept is very simple,” said L. James Lee, co-leader on the study and a professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering. “As a matter of fact, we were even surprised how it worked so well. In my lab, we have ongoing research trying to understand the mechanism and do even better. So, this is the beginning, more to come.”
The researchers hope to start clinical trials by next year to test the technology in humans.
This researcher was published online in the journal Nature Nanotechnology and was funded by Ohio State’s Center for Regenerative Medicine and Cell-Based Therapies, Ohio State’s Nanoscale Science and Engineering Center and Leslie and Abigail Wexner.
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