Researchers: New medical device has potential heal with single touch

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Researchers demonstrate a process known as tissue nanotransfection at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. The technology works by converting normal skin cells into vascular cells, which helps heal wounds. | The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center

A new device developed at The Ohio State University can start healing organs in a “fraction of a second,” researchers say.

The technology, known as Tissue Nanotransfection (TNT), has the potential to save the lives of car crash victims and even deployed soldiers injured on site. It’s a dime-sized silicone chip that “injects genetic code into skin cells, turning those skin cells into other types of cells required for treating diseased conditions,” according to a release.

In lab tests, one touch of TNT completely repaired injured legs of mice over three weeks by turning skin cells into vascular cells.

And, it not only works on skin cells, it can restore any type of tissue, Chandan Sen, director of the Center for Regenerative Medicine and Cell-Based Therapies, said. For example, the technology restored brain function in a mouse who suffered a stroke by growing brain cells on its skin.

This is a breakthrough technology, because it’s the first time cells have been reprogrammed in a live body. Current cell therapy methods are high risk, like those that introduce a virus, and include multiple steps, a new study published in Nature Nanotechnology points out. There are no known side effects to TNT and treatment is less than a second, Sen said.

“This technology does not require a laboratory or hospital and can actually be executed in the field,” Sen said. “It’s less than 100 grams to carry and will have a long shelf life.”

It is awaiting FDA approval, but Sen, who has been working on this for four years, expects TNT will be tested on humans within the year. He says he’s talking with Walter Reed National Medical Center now.

“We are proposing the use of skin as an agricultural land where you can essentially grow any cell of interest,” Sen said.

Ashley May, USA TODAY Network

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