Pioneering technology which can generate any type of cell, replace damaged organs and repair tissue has been developed.
The innovative and simple treatment, called The Tissue Nanotransfection (TNT), involves using a nanochip which injects new DNA into the damaged cells.
The technology hasn’t yet been tested in models of diabetes, but the technique offers potential for treating complications of diabetes such as neuropathy (nerve damage), as well as other cell damage.
A potential use would be to grow insulin producing islet cells, but it’s too early to say how achievable or practical this would be.
Researchers from Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center and Ohio State’s College of Engineering successfully used TNT to save a mouse’s wounded leg in a recent trial.
Study co-lead Dr Chandan Se, director of Ohio State’s Center for Regenerative Medicine and Cell Based Therapies, said: “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.”
As well as reprogramming skin cells, the researchers also used the technology to regenerate nerve cells. By injecting them into the brains of injured mice the findings suggested TNT could be used to help people recover from stroke too.
Sen added: “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.”
Professor L. James Lee, who also led the study and is from the chemical and biomolecular engineering with Ohio State’s College of Engineering, said: “The concept is very simple. As a matter of fact, we were even surprised how it worked so well. In my lab, we have ongoing research trying to understand the mechanism and do even better. So, this is the beginning, more to come.”
Next year it is hoped the technology will be tested on humans during a series of clinical trials.
The findings have been published in the journal Nature Nanotechnology.

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