New regenerative tissue technology developed

Tuesday, 08 August, 2017

Scientists have developed a new technology, tissue nano-transfection (TNT), that can generate any cell type of interest for treatment within a patient’s own body. This technology may be used to repair injured tissue or restore function of ageing tissue, including organs, blood vessels and nerve cells.

The research saw scientists at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center and Ohio State’s College of Engineering study mice and pigs. As part of their experiments, the researchers were able to reprogram skin cells to become vascular cells in badly injured legs that lacked blood flow. Their results have been published in the journal Nature Nanotechnology

“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 Dr Chandan Sen, director of Ohio State’s Center for Regenerative Medicine & Cell Based Therapies, who co-led the study. 

In lab tests, the technology was also shown to reprogram skin cells in the live body into nerve cells that were injected into brain-injured mice 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. 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 Dr Sen. 

TNT technology has two major components — a nanotechnology-based chip designed to deliver cargo to adult cells in the live body and the design of specific biological cargo for cell conversion. This cargo, when delivered using the chip, converts an adult cell from one type to another, said first author Daniel Gallego-Perez, an assistant professor of biomedical engineering and general surgery who also was a postdoctoral researcher in both Dr Sen’s laboratory. 

Researchers plan to start clinical trials next year to test this technology in humans, Dr Sen said.

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