Breakthrough Device Can Easily Reprogram Tissue Directly in The Body

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Scientist demonstrate tissue nanotransfection directly on the skin Credit: Courtesy The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center

Scientists from The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center and Ohio State’s College of Engineering have published a paper in Nature Nanotechnology describing a new device they call the “Tissue Nanotransfection”, which is capable of inducing the growth of a desired cell type inside the patient’s own body.

The scientists say their device could repair injured tissue or restore function of aging tissue, including organs, blood vessels and nerve cells.

Tissue Nanotransfection is able to deliver DNA or RNA into target cells to reprogram them without the need for a viral vector.

“It takes just a fraction of a second. You simply touch the chip to the wounded area, then remove it,” said Dr. Chandan Sen, director of Ohio State’s Center for Regenerative Medicine & Cell Based Therapies.

“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,”

Mice and pigs were used in in the study. The scientists were able to reprogram skin cells to become vascular cells inside the animals injured legs that lacked blood flow. Functioning blood vessels formed in the first week in the injured legs, and by the second week, the leg was saved.

In other tests, the scientists were able to show that their device could be used to reprogram skin cells in the live body into nerve cells that were then injected into the brains of suffering from strokes.

“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,” said Sen, who also is executive director of Ohio State’s Comprehensive Wound Center.

Tissue Nanotransfection has two main elements: One is a nanotech chip that is able to transport cargo to target cells inside the patient. The second is specially designed biological cargo that carries out the cell reprogramming.

When the specially designed biological cargo is delivered using the nanotech chip it reprograms an adult cell in to the desired cell for therapy, such as a vascular cell or nerve cell.

Tissue Nanotransfection can be used directly at the bedside of a patient without the need for laboratory procedures. Tissue Nanotransfection is also non-invasive as the cargo is delivered by activating the device with a small electrical charge that can barely be felt.

“The concept is very simple,” Lee said. “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 team plans to being clinical trails in humans next year.

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