Image: New research shows TNT converts normal skin cells into other cells that help heal wounds (Photo courtesy of OSU).
Innovative tissue nanotransfection (TNT) technology can treat diseased organs by injecting genetic code into living skin cells in order to change their function, claims a new study.
Developed at Ohio State University (OSU, Columbus, USA), TNT technology involves two major components - a nano-channelled chip for specific cytosolic delivery of non-viral reprogramming factors to adult cells in the live body, and the cargo (DNA or RNA) itself. Delivery of the cargo is achieved by applying a highly intense, focused electric field through the arrayed nano-channels, which benignly nanoporates the juxtaposing tissue cell membranes and electrophoretically drives the reprogramming factors into the cells.
The researchers demonstrated the simplicity of the approach by rescuing necrotizing tissues and whole limbs in two murine models of injury-induced ischemia. In the study, reprogrammed skin cells converted to vascular cells in badly injured ischemic legs. Within one week, active blood vessels appeared, and by the second week the leg was saved. In laboratory tests, the technology was also shown to reprogram skin cells in the living body into nerve cells that were then injected into brain-injured mice to help them recover from an induced stroke. The study was published on August 7, 2017, in Nature Nanotechnology.
“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,” said senior author Chandan Sen, MD, PhD, of the OSU Center for Regenerative Medicine and Cell Based Therapies. “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.”
Current gene therapy involves a vector, usually a virus, genetically engineered to deliver the gene by infecting the cell. Some types of virus, such as retroviruses, integrate their genetic material (including the new gene) into a chromosome in the human cell. Other viruses, such as adenoviruses, introduce their DNA into the nucleus of the cell, but the DNA is not integrated into a chromosome. The vector can be injected directly into a specific tissue in the body, where it is taken up by individual cells. Alternately, a sample of the patient's cells can be removed and exposed to the vector in a laboratory setting and then returned to the patient.
Ohio State University