New nanoneedles 'can help body to repair itself'


Prototype nanoneedles have been developed by UK researchers that could help the body to regenerate blood vessels and other damaged tissue.

Created by a team from Imperial College London and the Houston Methodist Research Institute, the nanoneedles work by delivering nucleic acids - which encode, transmit and express genetic information - to specific areas.

“UK scientists have developed a new type of nanoneedle that could be used to help the body to repair itself.“

Their porous structures allow them to carry expanded payloads, while they are also able to penetrate cells and bypass their outer membranes to deliver the nucleic acids without harming or killing the cell. They then biodegrade within around two days.

In an early trial, it was shown that the nanoneedles are capable of delivering DNA and siRNA into human cells in the lab, while new blood vessels were successfully generated in mice.

Professor Molly Stevens, co-corresponding author from the Departments of Materials and of Bioengineering at Imperial College London, said: "There are a number of hurdles to overcome and we haven’t yet trialled the nanoneedles in humans, but we think they have enormous potential for helping the body to repair itself."

The team is now aiming to develop a material, such as a flexible bandage that can incorporate the nanoneedles and be applied to different parts of the body.

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