Then, small electric current will fire DNA into the skin cells.
The chip is put at the surface of the skin, where it uses a technology called Tissue Nanotransfection (TNT) to input a certain genetic code into the skin cells.
It sounds like science fiction, but Dr. Chandan Sen, director of Ohio State's Center for Regenerative Medicine & Cell Based Therapies says that the technology implies a huge realm of possibilities. "The chip does not stay with you, and the reprogramming of the cell starts", he said.
Dr Sen added: "By using our novel nanochip technology, injured or compromised organs can be replaced".
In lab experiments, researchers found that just one touch of the TNT completely repaired the injured legs of lab mice over a three-week period by turning the skin cells of the animals into vascular cells.
It takes just a fraction of a second.
By the second week, active blood vessels had formed, and by the third week, the legs of the mice were saved-with no other form of treatment.
While the ability to reprogram cells into being other cells is not new, this technology skips the old intermediary process that forces the skin cells to first become "pluripotent stem cells" before they can become functional cells for other organs.
The breakthrough technology marks the first time that cells have been reprogrammed in a live body. TNT technology has two major components: a nanotechnology-based chip created to deliver cargo to adult cells in the live body; and the design of specific biological cargo for cell conversion.
"This is hard to imagine, but it is achievable, successfully working about 98 per cent of the time".
Because it is the body's own cells that are being converted, the immune system does not attack them and so there is no need for immunosuppressant drugs.
"The concept is very simple".
Scientists said the procedure is non-invasive and does not require a laboratory, meaning it could be used in hospitals and GP surgeries. "As a matter of fact, we were even surprised how it worked so well". In my lab, we have ongoing research trying to understand the mechanism and do even better.
The team were also able to use the device to convert skin cells on mice, into nerve cells which were then injected into the brains of mice who had experienced a stroke, helping them to recover. "So this is the beginning, more to come".
The technology is pending FDA approval, but Sen expects it to be tested on human in 2017.