The process, called Tissue Nanotransfection (TNT), uses a chip loaded with specific genetic code or certain proteins; a cargo that's been designed for cell conversion. The procedure only takes a second and is not invasive.
"This technology does not require a laboratory or hospital and can actually be executed in the field", Chandan Sen, director of the Center for Regenerative Medicine and Cell-Based Therapies, told USA Today. "With this technology, we can convert skin cells into elements of any organ with just one touch", said Sen. The chip does not stay with you, and the reprogramming of the cell starts. They were able to reprogramme skin cells to become vascular cells in badly injured legs that lacked blood flow.
"This is hard to imagine, but it is achievable, successfully working about 98 per cent of the time".
By the second week, active blood vessels had formed, and by the third week, the legs of the mice were saved-with no other form of treatment.
The technique works by placing a small pad of nanochips over a damaged area. A strong electric field is then applied across the device, which then delivers genes to the skin cells beneath it, morphing them into different kinds of cells.
Researchers demonstrate a process known as tissue nanotransfection at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. The process turns the skin into a "bioreactor" to fix damaged tissues. By using TNT's technology, the researchers managed to restore a mouse's brain function after it suffered a stroke.
The US researchers who created the technology say, "It could even be used as a weapon against neurological diseases like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's".
While the ability to reprogram cells into being other cells is not new, this technology skips the old intermediary process that forces the skin cells to first become "pluripotent stem cells" before they can become functional cells for other organs. In my lab, we have ongoing research trying to understand the mechanism and do even better.
Researchers plan to start clinical trials next year to test this technology in humans.
What appeals to you the most about this breakthrough technology, the idea of healing and regrowing damaged body parts or the idea that it can be used to stop aging and prolong life?