On August 7, the scientific journal Nature Nanotechnology published the results of a study at Ohio State University that could change the field of regenerative medicine. The results indicate early success in the use of a revolutionary new form of cellular therapy. The OSU researchers are perfecting a new technology called Tissue Nanotransfection (or TNT).
The technology utilizes a nanochip that sends messages to skin cells, effectively causing them to convert into the other cell types needed to treat an injury or organ failure. While the applications of such a technology are manifold, many scientists and doctors are excited about the procedure’s on-the-scene potential. TNT could almost instantly start the healing process for soldiers wounded in battle or people sustaining head trauma from sports injuries or car crashes.
The OSU team has thus far only tested the technology on pigs and mice, but the results have been promising. In animals with injured legs, TNT was used to convert skin cells into vascular cells, thus restoring blood flow to dying areas of the leg. After a week, the converted cells had created new blood vessels and by two weeks the injured legs were no longer at risk of being lost.
A similar test was performed on mice with brain injuries. TNT was used to convert skin cells into nerve cells that then entered the brain and restored neural pathways. If the procedure is also effective in humans, it could help to roll back the brain damage caused by a stroke.
Dr. Chandan Sen and Professor L. James Lee co-led the study. Sen said the technology in its current state has been “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.” Lee added that the research is ongoing, and they expect to improve the technology even more. “So, this is the beginning, more to come.”