Imagine a future where car crash victims or Alzheimer’s patients could be healed with the touch of a button.
Scientists may have taken the first step to making that a reality.
Researchers at Ohio State Universtiy have developed a small, dime-sized silicone device — known as Tissue Nanotransfection — that uses nanotechnology to reprogram a person’s cells.
To work, a doctor merely needs to place the chip on a person’s wound and the device sends an electrical pulse that converts living cells into whatever cells the body needs them to be. The pulse opens a small window into the cell that allows the chip to send in a new genetic code – and the whole process takes less than a second.
In lab tests, the device repaired injured mice legs by turning skin cells into vascular cells in the span of three weeks. The findings were published August 7 in Nature nanotechnology.
The future implications for such a device are limitless, though some examples include reprogramming brain cells in Alzheimer’s or stroke patients, regenerating limbs or helping injured soldiers or car crash victims at the scene.
“This technology does not require a laboratory or hospital and can actually be executed in the field,” Chandan Sen, the director of the Center for Regenerative Medicine and Cell-Based Therapies, told USA Today. “It’s less than 100 grams to carry and will have a long shelf life.”
The technology is currently waiting for FDA approval, but Sen expects the device to enter human trial within the year.