November 23, 2022 - Podcast

Episode 325 — A nanochip that could treat traumatic muscle loss

Volumetric muscle loss is the traumatic or surgical loss of skeletal muscle that results in compromised muscle strength and mobility. The affected muscle is incapable of regenerating the amount of lost tissue and undergoes substantial loss of function, thus compromising quality of life.

Technology developed by researchers at the Indiana University School of Medicine that can change skin tissue into functioning blood vessels and nerve cells has also shown promise as a treatment for traumatic muscle loss.

Tissue nanotransfection is a minimally invasive nanochip device based on regenerative medicine technology that can reprogram tissue function by applying harmless electric sparks lasting less than one second to deliver specific genes.

A new study, recently published in Nature Partner Journals Regenerative Medicine, tested tissue nanotransfection-based gene therapy as a treatment, with the goal of delivering a gene known to be a major driver of muscle repair and regeneration. The study found that muscle function improved when tissue nanotransfection was used as a therapy for seven days following volumetric muscle loss in rats.

It is the first study to report that tissue nanotransfection technology can be used to generate muscle tissue and demonstrates its benefit in addressing volumetric muscle loss.

Current clinical treatments for volumetric muscle loss are physical therapy or autologous tissue transfer -- or using a person’s own tissue, the outcomes of which are promising but call for improved treatment regimens.

IU School of Medicine Professor Chandan Sen says the researchers are encouraged that tissue nanotransfection is emerging as a versatile platform technology for gene delivery, gene editing and tissue reprogramming in living organisms.

Sen says their work proves the potential of tissue nanotransfection in regenerative medicine, opening up new avenues of research that should help address a wide range of health care problems.