Ohio State University researchers are calling their latest development a breakthrough in regenerative medicine.
Mike Foley has details.
Researchers describe the technology, known as Tissue Nanotransfection (TNT), as an extension of gene therapy. The difference comes in the delivery of the genetic material into cells. Whereas gene therapy involves an injection or an IV, Tissue Nanotransfection takes a nanochip loaded with a specific genetic code or certain proteins and uses a small electrical current to create channels for the DNA or RNA to take root. Dr. Chandan Sen directs the Center for Regenerative Medicine and Cell-Based Therapies at Ohio State’s Wexner Medical Center – and co-led the study. He says the technology may be used to repair injured tissue or restore function of aging tissue, including organs, blood vessels and nerve cells.
“This process only takes less than a second, and is not invasive. The chip does not stay with you, and the reprogramming of the cell starts. In many cases, in seven days you start seeing changes – and these changes, to our pleasant surprise, persist. Our technology is not just limited to be used on the skin. It can be used on other tissues within the body or outside the body.”
In the study, researchers applied the chip to the injured legs of mice that had little to no blood flow. They reprogrammed the skin cells to become vascular cells, and within a week noticed the transformation. By the second week, active blood vessels had formed, and by the third week, researchers say the legs of the mice were saved with no other form of treatment. Results of the study are published in the journal Nature Nanotechnology. Because the technique uses a patient’s own cells and does not rely on medication, researchers expect to test the technology in people next year.