The wounded are often a major problem in military campaigns. The recovery time after a wound affects logistics in combat. The US Air Force is developing cutting-edge technology for this. Very soon they could be healing wounds at the cellular level at high speed.
Reprogramming the cells
It could heal a person’s wounds five times faster than naturally. It would be the solution for many soldiers and veterans in treating injuries. Even so, they are better at accepting organ transplants.
Indika Rajapakse is a researcher at the University of Michigan. It works on reprogramming human cells to speed up the natural healing process. “We have the resources for it. And we are obliged to make the most of it, ”explained Rajapakse. He is an expert in computational medicine and bioinformatics at the University of Michigan.
What does cell reprogramming involve? They take in a type of human cell, such as a muscle cell. So they reprogram their genome to become a different type of cell. For example skin or blood vessel. The genome is modified by proteins, so-called transcription factors. These regulate activities such as cell division and growth, migration and organization of cells.
These transcription factors could be delivered through an aerosol dressing. It would be applied directly to wounds. After modifying the gene, a sequence can be written to change to a different cell type if necessary. For example, if a soldier suffers an injury that leaves a muscle open, the cells like those in the skin can be reprogrammed to quickly cover the wound.
A living cell imaging microscope was used. Rajapakse and his team developed a mathematical algorithm. The correct transcription factors have been identified to make the desired changes.
The Air Force is very interested in the process. By allowing the wounds to heal quickly, they would have a strategic advantage. However, it is inevitable to think about the everyday applications that could be derived from this technology.