Previously shown technique can turn skin tissue into blood vessels and nerve cells

A technique developed by researchers at Indiana University School of Medicine that can turn skin tissue into blood vessels and nerve cells also shows promise in treating traumatic muscle loss.

Tissue nanotransfection is a minimally invasive nanochip device that can reprogram tissue function by delivering specific genes in a fraction of a second by applying a harmless electrical spark.

A new study, published in Nature Partners Journal of Regenerative Medicine, tested tissue nanotransfection-based gene therapy as a treatment to deliver a gene known to be a major driver of muscle repair and regeneration. They found that tissue nanotransfection was used as a treatment for 7 days following bulk muscle loss in rats, resulting in improved muscle function. This is the first study to report that tissue nanotransfection technology can be used to generate muscle tissue and demonstrate its benefit in addressing bulk muscle loss.

Volumetric muscle loss is the traumatic or surgical loss of skeletal muscle resulting in impaired muscle strength and mobility. Because the lost tissue cannot be regenerated, the affected muscles can lose function severely, affecting quality of life. A 20% reduction in mass can result in up to 90% loss of muscle function.

Current clinical treatments for bulk muscle loss are physical therapy or autologous tissue transplantation (using a person’s own tissue), with promising results, but improved treatment options are needed.

“We are encouraged that tissue nanotransfection is emerging as a versatile platform technology for gene delivery, gene editing, and tissue reprogramming in vivo,” said Chandan Sen, director of the Indiana Center for Regenerative Medicine and Engineering, vice president for research and distinguished professor Said at IU School of Medicine. “This work demonstrates the potential of tissue nanotransfection in muscle tissue, opening a new avenue of research that could help address traumatic muscle loss. Importantly, it demonstrates the potential of tissue nanotransfection technology platforms in regenerative medicine versatility.”

Sen also leads the regenerative medicine and engineering sciences pillars of the IU Precision Health Program and is the lead author of the new publication.

The Indiana Center for Regenerative Medicine and Engineering is home to tissue nanotransfection technologies for in vivo tissue reprogramming, gene delivery, and gene editing. Tissue nanotransfection has also been achieved so far in vascular and neural tissues. Furthermore, recent work has demonstrated that local tissue nanotransfection enables cell-specific gene editing of skin wound tissue, resulting in improved wound closure.

Additional study authors include IU’s Andrew Clark, Subhadip Ghatak, Poornachander Reddy Guda, Mohamed S. El Masry and Yi Xuan, and Purdue University’s Amy Y. Sato and Teresita Bellido.

This work was supported by the Department of Defense Discovery Award W81XWH-20-1-251. It was also partially supported by NIH grant DK128845 and the Lilly Endowment INCITE (Indiana Talent Enrichment Partnership).

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Materials provided Indiana University. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

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