Treating Diabetes, Obesity, and Cardiovascular Disease by Reprogramming Skin

Using tissue nano-transfection to reprogram skin cells to treat diabetes, obesity and/or cardiovascular health

The incidence of obesity and diabetes is skyrocketing, leading to chronic inflammatory conditions such as cardiovascular disease, autoimmune diseases, liver diseases, and cancer. Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of death across the US and worldwide and affects almost half of all adults in the US. CVD encompasses a number of conditions that affect the heart and vasculature. CVD can arise in response to multiple factors, including obesity. Obesity elevates the risk of CVD by increasing the development and severity of comorbidities such as hypertension, dyslipidemia, and diabetes.

The Need

Cellular therapies hold immense promise for treating various conditions, but current methods face significant challenges such as limited cell sources and cumbersome pre-processing steps. Existing reprogramming approaches often rely on viral transfection, which has limitations and safety concerns. There is a critical need for safer, more deterministic, and non-viral in vivo reprogramming methods to enhance the effectiveness of cell-based therapies.

The Technology

Researchers at The Ohio State University have developed a novel tissue nanotransfection (TNT) approach that enables topically and controllably delivering reprogramming factors to tissues through a nanochannelled device. This method allows for direct cytosolic delivery of reprogramming factors by applying a highly intense and focused electric field through arrayed nanochannels, nanoporating tissue cell membranes and driving reprogramming factors into the cells. This novel TNT approach has been shown to negate the adverse effects of a high-fat diet on body weight, adiposity, cardiac function and cardiac remodeling in mice. The novel method is especially useful for treating obesity, and CVD related to obesity, such as coronary artery disease, hypertension, stroke, atherosclerosis, heart failure and cardiac arrhythmias. The novel method is also useful for inducing skin tissue to produce insulin for treating diabetes.

Commercial Applications

  • Regenerative Medicine: Reprogramming tissues to promote tissue repair and regeneration.
  • Cell-based Therapies: Enhancing efficacy of cell-based treatments for various conditions.
  • Personalized medicine: Tailoring treatments based on individual patient needs and genetic profiles.


  • Safer delivery: Non-viral approach reduces the risk of adverse side effects associated with viral transfection.
  • Deterministic reprogramming: Enables more focused and ample delivery of reprogramming factors at the single-cell level, enhancing efficacy.
  • Versatility: Can be applied to different tissue types and reprogramming scenarios, enhancing its potential for diverse applications.

US and ex-US patents issued and patent applications pending

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