NANOCHIP COULD HEAL INJURIES WITH “ONE TOUCH”
Researchers at the Ohio State University have designed a tiny device that genetically reprogrammes skin cells. It’s hoped it could be used to repair injured tissue, including organs, blood vessels and nerve cells.
Dubbed ‘tissue nanotransfection’ (TNT), the new technique uses a coin-sized device that is placed on the patient’s skin. The device is then zapped with a small electric charge, triggering it to deliver a package of specially engineered genes to the target skin cells, transforming them into different types of cells entirely. “With this technology, we can convert skin cells into elements of any organ with just one touch,” said researcher Dr Chandan Sen. “This process takes less than a second and is completely 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.”
In one experiment, the team successfully reprogrammed skin cells to replace blood vessels in a mouse with a badly injured leg. Just one week after treatment, active blood vessels began to grow in the mouse’s damaged leg, and by the second week its limb was saved. In another experiment, the chip was used to create nerve cells that were then injected into mice to help them recover from brain injuries caused by stroke. Clinical trials in humans will start later this year.
This tiny device can turn skin cells into the buildingblocks of vital organs