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Technology delivers new DNA or RNA into living skin cells to change their function.
Engineers at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center have developed a new technology called Tissue Nanotransfection (TNT). This TNT technology, a device that can generate any cell type of interest for treatment within the patient’s own body.
Scientists expect that the device could heal organs with a single touch.
Dr. Chandan Sen, Co-author of the study said, “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.”
Basically, this TNT technology uses two major components. 1. a nanotechnology-based chip designed to deliver cargo to adult cells in the live body. 2. the design of specific biological cargo for cell conversion.
By delivering the cargo via chip, the device converts an adult cell from one type to another. The cargo is delivered by zapping the device with a small electrical charge that’s barely felt by the patient.
During experiments, scientists reengineered skin cells of mice and pigs to become vascular cells in badly injured legs. Within just 1 week, active blood vessels were found as active in the injured leg. During the 2nd week, the leg was completely healed.
In brain-injured mice, the device reprogrammed skin cells into nerve cells and help them recover from the stroke.
Sen said, “This is difficult to imagine, but it is achievable, successfully working about 98 percent 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. 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.”
L. James Lee, professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering said, “The concept is very simple. 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.”
Researchers are planning to start clinical trials on humans from next year.