30 Jan Imagine the Possibilities: Regenerative Medicine
Occasionally you come across an article that is just so cool that you have to pay it tribute. Ohio State researchers have developed a combination of nanotechnology and biological engineering (reference: Ohio State researchers develop regenerative medicine breakthrough) that can reprogram skin cells to become any kind of tissue.
Why is this cool? Patients will use their own skin cells to grow new specialized tissue,
including “organs, blood vessels, and nerve cells.” Since these specialized tissues are grown within their own body, the immune system does not reject them.
Imagine the possibilities:
- Patients with failing organs can grow replacements.
- Paralyzed patients and stroke survivors can grow their own replacement nerve cells.
- Patients can grow replacement blood vessels to improve circulation and heal injuries.
Can you say, “Wolverine”?
For patients with once-terminal illnesses, this treatment may provide the cure.
The skin is a perfect source of fresh cells. New skin displaces old cells at a rate of around 30,000 to 40,000 per day (reference: How skin grows), making it an abundant natural resource. The skin being easily accessible from outside the body also makes the procedure non-invasive.
Nanotechnology-based “delivery chip” is placed on the skin and zapped with a small electrical charge. This will deliver its cargo, a specially designed biological “packet” that performs the cellular reprogramming. The delivery chip is then removed, and as the reprogrammed cells reproduce, they “grow” the specified tissue.
Researchers have demonstrated blood vessel regeneration and stroke recovery in mice. 98% of the tests have been successful, an amazing success rate for a new technology with so many potential implications.
According to researchers, the technology is still in its infancy, and they hope to continue this technology to improve it. With clinical trials scheduled to start next year in humans, it’s a very exciting time.