Researchers hope it will be approved for human trials within a year
By Christa Sgobba

A device the size of a cufflink may have major implications for the field of regenerative medicine: A new chip using tissue nanotransfection may one day help repair injured tissue or restore its function, researchers from Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center report.

Here’s how it works. After you place the chip on an injured part of the body, you apply an electrical current to it. That starts a re-programming of the skin cells using genetic code, which converts those cells into other types of cells that can be used to treat certain diseases.

That’s what the researchers confirmed when they tested the technique on mice with injured legs. When they placed the chip on the injured tissue and start the process, it converted the skin cells into vascular cells, which created functioning blood vessels. This boosted blood flow, and allows the injury to heal. Within two weeks, their legs were saved, they reported in Nature Nanotechnology.

While the technique has only been tested in animals so far, the exciting part is that it seems like it will work in any type of tissue. For instance, researchers were also able to grow brain cells on the skin of mice, harvest them, and then inject them back into mice that suffered strokes. In just a few weeks, their brain function was restored.

The ability to create and harvest brain cells may have far-reaching implications for people with Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease down the line, the researchers say.

What’s more, because the technique uses the patients’ own cells, no anti-rejection drugs are necessary. Researchers hope it will be approved for human trials within a year.

Originally published on menshealth.com