Researchers have developed a groundbreaking new device that can develop new cells within a patient’s own body, simply by acting on the skin. The technology could open up a host of new treatment options and be a game-changer in medicine.
Created by The Ohio State University, the technology is known as Tissue Nanotransfection (THT). It involves using a nanotechnology-based chip and placing it on the skin of a patient. It can convert an adult cell from one type to another, simply by “zapping” the device with a small electrical charge. The procedure is non-invasive. The findings are published in the journal Nature Nanotechnology.
"By using our novel nanochip technology, injured or compromised organs can be replaced,” said study co-author Dr Chandan Sen in a statement. “We have shown that skin is a fertile land where we can grow the elements of any organ that is declining.”
The device has not yet been tested in humans, but it has proved successful with mice and pigs. In a mouse that had leg injuries, within one week the chip caused active blood vessels to re-appear, and by the second week the leg was saved. It also helped brain-injured mice recover from a stroke.
"The chip carries a specific genetic code in the form of DNA or RNA, which, when applied to cells, changes them from their previous structure and function to the structure and functions needed to repair the injury," reports Medical News Today.
According to the researchers, the technology successfully worked 98 percent of the time. Patients do not need to carry the chip with them, they simply need to have it attached to their skin for a few seconds to start the reprogramming of cells. The team said they were “surprised” it worked so well.
The potentials for such a technology are huge. It could help repair injured tissue or even restore the function of aging tissue in organs, blood vessels, and nerve cells. It could also grow brain cells on human skin under the guidance of a person’s immune system, and these cells could then be injected into a person’s brain to treat conditions such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.
“With this technology, we can convert skin cells into elements of any organ with just one touch,” said Dr Sen. “This process only takes less than a second and is non-invasive, and then you're off.”