back to article Watch this nanochip reprogram cells to fix damaged body tissue

Researchers at Ohio State University have developed a nanochip contact patch that can reprogram nearby cells, to help repair damaged or aging organs, blood vessels, or nerve cells. The bio-boffins have successfully used the device, which is about the size of a smartwatch screen, to turn skin cells into vascular cells in a …

Anonymous Coward

WOW!!!

see above

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Re: WOW!!!

I wonder what qualifies as "damaged" here? If you had a kidney removed, could it be grown back? If you have heart blockages that can't be repaired otherwise, could they cut them out and reconnect with fresh unblocked vessels? If your spinal cord is severed, could this grow it back together?

Sounds very promising...I don't really have any body parts I need fixed or replaced yet, but sounds like I may have some options if I eventually do!

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Re: WOW!!!

It appears to be cell change (it is late and I don't have time to look up wikipedia for the technical terms and specific pathways) and not cell growth. Though there may be some natural growth in the process.

The article states it turns skin cells into other cells. Does it work in turning other, for example stem cells, into anything?

So the type of organ it can replace depends highly on the needed structure and the artificial shaping or natural ability to replace it. Growing bone in the wrong place is bad. Though a kidney if working is fine anywhere in the body... it could have unwanted consiquences when going to the loo.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: WOW!!!

" If you had a kidney removed, could it be grown back?"

Articles elsewhere report caveats that appear to exclude invasive locations without major developments.

"What’s more, he said, the new technique is unlikely to be used on areas other than skin, since the need for an electric current and the device near to the tissue means using it on internal organs would require an invasive procedure."

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Re: WOW!!!

Awesome! This is just mind-blowing. If I understand the implications correctly, this means you can use a patient's own skin cells (which, burn victims aside, are abundantly available) to generate new tissue of any chosen type, anywhere in the body. That means nerve repair for damaged spines, could replace bone marrow transplants etc. and repair damaged organs. (Would growing whole new organs be a step too far?)

I think the real key thing for this technology is that small almost throw-away line at the end - if it's coming from the patient's own cells and happens in the body itself, there is a significantly less risk of auto-immune rejection of the new tissue.

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Re: WOW!!!

"using it on internal organs would require an invasive procedure."

Sure, but for a patient who is for example paraplegic, small operation involving a back incision would be minimally risky and a small inconvenience to potentially regain use of limbs. Problems with internal organs many times require invasive surgery anyway, this would give surgeons an additional (and very powerful) tool.

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Re: WOW!!!

I didn't mean to imply I thought it could be used directly inside the body - that's a given not to be the case if it needs skin as a starting point. But if you could grow a kidney to be surgically implanted in your body (or better yet the starting point of a kidney that would finish growing and gain function once implanted) this would be a powerful tool indeed.

This has basically been the promise of stem cells, but getting to the "ear growing on the mouse" stage as a practical day to day alternative hasn't proven to be so easy. It looks like this is a shortcut that essentially can use your own skin to perform the function of stem cells.

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Go

Re: WOW!!!

My reading of this is that it effectively turns any cell into a stem cell - and then tells it what it should be. Rather than slap stem cells on the affected area and hope they differentiate correctly, they figure out what cells are needed, convert skin (because it's easy to get to, and is plentiful, and re-grows quickly) cells into the target and apply where they are needed.

What they did with the vascular tissue with the mouse was just convert the skin to vascular cells and let it migrate. With more in-depth (EG. nerve cells in the spine) injuries, they would convert skin cells to nerve cells, harvest the nerve cells, and then inject 'em into the problem site.

All the benefit of harvesting cord-blood, without the requirements of planning and storage.

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Re: WOW!!!

I wonder how being older would affect this? If your skin has more DNA damage from age or sun exposure maybe it wouldn't work as well?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: WOW!!!

So the type of organ it can replace depends highly on the needed structure and the artificial shaping or natural ability to replace it. Growing bone in the wrong place is bad. Though a kidney if working is fine anywhere in the body... it could have unwanted consequences when going to the loo.

Well, the problem seems to me to be that the bone, kidney, brain cells whatever, are going to be on your skin, which is obviously not the most preferable place.

I notice it says "to turn skin cells into vascular cells in a mouse's damaged leg, which lacked blood flow."

Not on the leg, in the leg. Which means they injected skin cells into the leg and did this?

Well, probably not. The next claim is "The researchers also reprogrammed skin cells to become nerve cells, so they could be injected into mice with brain damage to help them recover from the equivalent of a stroke."

So, (1) that means injecting them with nerve cells would also have fixed the issue, and

(2) as advertised, only works on skin cells on the outside of the body.

I'm not sure I want nerve cells on the outside of my body, thank you.

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Re: WOW!!!

I'd gladly put up with having nerve cells outside of my body for a short time if it was to fix BRAIN DAMAGE. Hell, those nerve cells are too sensitive just stay in bed for a few weeks while the skin cells are turned into nerve cells until they can be injected. Sounds totally worth it to me.

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Human clinical trials are planned for next year

I volunteer! Me! Me! Over here! Me! So long as they can grow me a new set of teeth, to replace the crappy, crumbling, misaligned mess I've got now.

Obviously a diet heavy in pork scratchings and Thornton's Special Toffee hasn't been ideal for my gnashers, but if I can just grow a fresh set, then I'll be able to live on those two products (and beer).

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I want a tail,

a good prehensile tail like a spider monkey. It could be used as an extra hold while hiking or that extra hand while trying to manipulate equipment. It would also be great for holding tails under the desk while at school and other naughty things.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I want a tail,

A tail? I want another couple of todgers (and any necessary dangly plumbing) so that when the first one is spent I can just fire up the next one. It would be like carrying a pork Gatling gun, if you like.

Hurrah for the chance to post AC!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I want a tail,

Why stop at a tails?

I want half a cat growing out of each shoulder and a real ass out of my ass.

Lets not do things by half.

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Re: I want a tail,

Y'all are some weird people. I admire that.

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Re: I want a tail,

Second pair of arms for me please

I'd love to be able to hold a heavy boxes and open doors etc at the same time

Or hold PCB + Component + soldering iron, All at the SAME TIME!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I want a tail,

Second pair of arms for me please

Good thought that man!

With all my additional todgers I'd probably need some additional arms too,

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I want a tail,

@AC ... Todgers you say. The big problem (you hope) is there just isn't room between your legs for more so where does todger number 2 attach? Middle of the forehead perhaps? ;-)

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I want a tail,

is there just isn't room between your legs for more

Well I'm not planning on having all three "boned up" at the same time. Plenty of room. Six nadgers might be a more pressing problem, particularly in tighter clothing.

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MrT

Re: Another couple of todgers...

Two more todgers, you say? Tell me - how do your trousers fit?

Please provide your answers in the space below. Form an orderly queue - no pushing or shoving, thank you.

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Re: I want a tail,

" I want a tail, a good prehensile tail like a spider monkey."

An admirable ambition. But on a sartorial note, how would you dress? Would the tail be clothed or nude? And if clothed, would it be shoved unceremoniously down a trouser leg (which might create a need for different sized trouser legs), or would you have a sleeve over the tail?

Of course, if you wanted the sort of tail that'll support your weight, and allow you to swing from branches, then it's going to be big and muscular, so we'd be talking more like a three legged pair of trousers with one leg shorter than the others. The AC wanting to endow his front trouser department might want to think on some of these style matters, too.

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"Two more todgers, you say? Tell me - how do your trousers fit?"

They'd probably have to be made to measure, so quite well.

Of course, getting the measurements may prove tricky. "Do you dress to the left or to the right, sir?" "Yes."

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MrT

Re: "Two more todgers, you say? Tell me - how do your trousers fit?"

Quite well indeed, almost like a glove.

I'd mention Jake The Peg, but that might take things a bit too far...

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Re: Todger number 2

Some reptiles and marsupials have two todgers.

Some monotremes (going from memory here, so it could be marsupials again) have four.

Some marsupials have three vaginas. The two outer ones for sex and the medial one for giving birth. In some species the medial vagina is closed off except for giving birth.

So there's plenty of room for a second todger.

BTW, I'd like a baculum. Very helpful when you get to my age. The males of most mammalian species have bacula (amusingly, there's a backup suite for Linux called that).

Where's the icon for two todgers? A picture of Boris and Farage would do.

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Coat

Re: Jake the Peg

Hah. That reminded me of Rolf Harris.

I can do a great impression of Rolf.

I unzip my trousers and say "Kin ya till whit it is yit, kids?" (I know, the accent needs more work).

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Re: Jake the Peg

Sounds more South African than Australian...

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Re: I want a tail,

Your "tailor" will be several kinds of upset.

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IT Angle

"I'd mention Jake The Peg, but that might take things a bit too far"

He certainly did.

(The IT angle: can you guess what IT is?)

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Amazing

If, after trials it is only half as good as it seems now it will be a game changer.

If it is as good as it seems and can be fully developed, then we have a new era of medicine, obviously a damaged body may need other care until the chip's effect gets going but something like this could be developed in the future as an implant if it carried with it some form of diagnostic kit.

I want one.

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This is something from the Culture.

beware the gifts of Greeks.

Technology has truly become a thing of Magic for us (to mix authors)

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Glanding 'Snap' would help with my caffeine fixation.

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Type 1 Diabetics

New Islets of Langerhans cell would make me and many others very happy.

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We are Borg?

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No, you are not. Real Borg don't ask.

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TRT
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So long as it can't...

convert facial tissue cells into the appearance of a gas mask...

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Re: So long as it can't...

Are you my mummy?

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Okay so theoretically I should be able to comment. I'm a medical doctor with an undergraduate in computer science ( graduated 16 years ago) , A Masters in biomedical engineering, an Oxford engineering graduate - with published research in biomedical engineering. Look at my previous drunken posts for some rants. Yes I really have no idea how the frig this works. I almost want to call a fake, but I can't until I look into it to see if it's something I'm missing... we can't really change cells, if we could we could cure cancer. Our best hopes of regeneration of a limb et cetera are vascular surgery - which might give a few months more to ischaemic limb - or we chop it off -we can't heal shit - I work at one of the top London hospitals, and we literally don't know our arse from our head... you think doctors are smart, the truth is we know a lot, basics about mechanics in the human body, but thick as pig shit. Randomly our nervous system, from brain to extremities, looks a lot like the internet and electrical wiring, when it goes wrong, we actually use electrical impulses to check neurological deficit. We follow the path and find the break, it seems complex but it's not - we have abt 5 words for each thing from Latin Greek et cetera And hundreds of thousands permutations and you eventually work shit out - example polycythaemia rubra Vera - sounds messed but it's lots of true red cells in Latin. Literally everything is named after something like a Cresant a river a loop in Latin and you can put the shit together but it's not rocket science.

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Coat

It is however occasionally brain surgery....

Mine's the one with the edible chips in the pocket

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I have witnessed rocket surgery.

It involved a drill.

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TRT
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I do brain science if that helps any.

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Anonymous Coward

I work at one of the top London hospitals, and we literally don't know our arse from our head

Remind me not to get ill in London. Have you considered a new career in marketing?

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Pint

Technobabble?

It feels like technobabble, looks like technobabble and sounds like technobabble...

I hope they are just exaggerating, and it really isn't my field of expertise, but it triggers a lot of alarms in my head which usually would result in a dismissal. However considering the source only scepticism.

I do hope it is as they claim though, and lets hope they next can create a chip that creates water into beer (I don't drink wine).

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Re: Technobabble?

" lets hope they next can create a chip that creates water into beer"

I can do you beer into water, if that's of any help?

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Re: Beer into water

I can convert beer into Fosters.

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Lots of hype for a very simple low-tech process

This seems to be a minor technical modification of a standard technique in molecular biology. For more than 40 years, biologists have been inserting DNA and/or RNA into cells by putting a DNA/RNA solution in contact with the cells, then applying a voltage which both makes tiny holes in the cell membrane and causes some of the DNA/RNA to move through the holes into the cell.

In this case, they seem to have made a tiny electrode patch (which they misleadingly call a "chip") and have developed appropriate voltage and contact conditions to transfer the applied DNA/RNA solution into normal skin cells (perhaps removing or penetrating the outer layer of dead skin cells first?).

The "reprogramming" part stems (ahem!) from the last two decades' enormous advances in the understanding of the molecular mechanisms that specify cell type, much of it from "stem cell research". For many cell types, simply injecting DNA or RNA from one or a few specific genes is sufficient to change that cell's self-image. If the new self-image of the trans cell (e.g. blood vessel component) is more suitable than the old, Bob's your aunt.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Lots of hype for a very simple low-tech process

If the new self-image of the trans cell (e.g. blood vessel component) is more suitable than the old, Bob's your aunt.

So, cutting to the chase, how are things looking for those of us wanting new tails, pancreatic cells, arms, teeth and willies?

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Boffin

Re: Lots of hype for a very simple low-tech process

From what I've been able to piece together, from TFA and the erudite comments, the pancreatic cells looks promising. I'm not sure about the teeth; but the arms, tails and, ahem, front tails seem improbable from this process.

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Re: pancreatic beta cells

I think the bigger problem with Type 1 diabetes is preventing the same autoimmune reaction that wiped out the original pancreatic cells from wiping out any new ones, whether they were generated via a newfangled process or just transplanted in.

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I really have no idea how the frig this works

It works by stimulating the c-KIT gene in chromosome 4. That gene is the regulator of stem cells as well as various related blood cells. It is the stem cell king. Very important for the vascular system of course and especially arterial regeneration. Stem cells are the generator of many of the cells in the body. They may differentiate into whatever is required.

Therein lies a possible problem. How do we instruct the c-KIT gene what it should make for any particular location? Very critical is the concept of neuro regeneration. There are many types of neurons ranging from the von Economo neurons (spindle neurons) to the various motor neurons for firing up the muscles. This is all a part of the brain mapping work I am now doing and it is quite amazing to see the brain thinking in real time.

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