US researchers at the Ohio State University (OSU) Wexner Medical Centre and College of Engineering have developed the new Tissue Nanotransfection (TNT) technology that has the ability to switch cell function and heal injured tissues with a single touch.

TNT is designed to repair tissues as well as restore function to a variety of ageing tissues such as organs, blood vessels and nerve cells.

The technology comprises a nanotechnology-based chip that is to be put on the injured area, where it injects genetic code into skin cells after the device is zapped with a small electrical charge.

TNT also includes a design of specific biological cargo for cell conversion, which transforms the target skin cells to another cell type of interest for treatment.

"With this technology, we can convert skin cells into elements of any organ with just one touch."

Ohio State Centre for Regenerative Medicine and Cell-Based Therapies director Dr Chandan Sen said: “This is difficult to imagine, but it is achievable, successfully working about 98% of the time. With this technology, we can convert skin cells into elements of any organ with just one touch.

“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.”

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While testing the device in mice, the team was able to reprogramme skin cells to transform into vascular cells in injured legs, and also to nerve cells in brain-injured mice to aid recovery from stroke.

According to the researchers, the TNT technology is non-invasive and can be implemented at point-of-care (POC), eliminating the need for laboratory-based procedures.

Image: Researchers demonstrate the TNT process. Photo: courtesy of the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Centre, Ohio, US.