Zap Cells into Other Kinds for Fast Healing

Ohio State researchers created a genetic compound that quickly converts skin cells into blood endothelial cells for building blood vessels with the help of a microchip. They tested this on living mice with severed arteries and after 3 weeks of growing new blood vessels and increased blood flow, they were fully healed. Now scientists claim this is safe for testing on humans.

Usual methods of reprogramming cells like this use mixes of DNA, RNA, and proteins. The most popular way actually delivers the cells via viruses, but they may miss their target, inflame the immune system, and even turn cells cancerous. The next best alternative has been to basically electrocute target cells open to receive the new cells but this has a high failure rate of transforming the cells properly and even destroying them altogether.

This new technological bio-technique is called Tissue Nanotransfection and uses a microchip with channels that transmit electric fields onto target cells individually.

“You affect only a small area of the cell surface, compared with the conventional method, which upsets the entire cell,” says study co-author L. James Lee, a chemical and biomolecular engineer at the Ohio State University. “Essentially we create a tiny hole and inject DNA right into the cell, so we can control the dosage.”

Even better, the new cells replicate the programmed cells on their own and deliver them into deeper tissues for healing. One successful example of this repairs mice brain tissue damaged by stroke by transforming mice skin cells into neuron-like cells and injecting them on the damage.

“As a proof of principle, this [approach] is very nice,” says neurobiologist Benedikt Berninger of Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz in Germany, who was not involved in the study. “A big question would be: Can we get [EVs] to convert only specific cells?”

The team of scientists are very excited about the possibilities of human trials and being able to program human cells into the kind needed for the fastest healing or performance.

“Considering what could be done,” Sen says, “this could be transformative.”

What do you think about computers triggering cellular transformations? What are the potential harms of the frequencies on our cells and organs? Is there a non-tech way to induce optimum healing with vibrations?