Dr. Daniel Gallego-Perez awarded 4-year, $3 million Department of Defense award

Posted: July 26, 2022

Dr. Daniel Gallego-Perez, Associate Professor, Biomedical Engineering, has received a new Department of Defense award to support his innovative non-viral gene delivery and reprogramming research! Daniel and his team from Neurology and Plastic Surgery will be using Dr. Gallego-Perez’s TNT technology to improve the standard of care for peripheral nerve injury in military environments.

This award, in the amount of $3,150,000 over four years, is for Dr. Gallego-Perez's research titled "Non-viral gene and reprogramming-based cell therapies for peripheral nerve injury." Collaborators on this include Dr. W. David Arnold (Neurology, partnering PI) and Amy Moore (Plastic Surgery, co-I).

Research on this project will be used to find a solution to traumatic nerve injuries in the military typically resulting from high-velocity gunshot wounds or blast injuries that compromise multiple tissues. Although warfare has historically led to a large number of nerve injuries, the standard care for this condition has evolved very little throughout conflicts and continues to be a significant challenge for military surgeons. Moreover, the treatment of traumatic nerve injuries is often delayed in order to address additional complications from the injury, including hemorrhages, tissue necrosis and infections, among others. This, in turn, can result in severe long-term consequences, as the injured nerve and denervated muscle tissue continue to progressively deteriorate. The complications from peripheral nerve injuries are further compounded by life-long chronic disabilities. Nerve injuries could result pain, weakness, loss of sensation and loss of independence, and as such have a significant impact in unit readiness and return-to-duty rates. Therefore, there is a clear need for the development of novel approaches that can be used to treat traumatic nerve injuries more promptly, and with simple-to-implement and versatile methodologies compatible with intervention across all levels of military medical care. This application is focused on developing game-changing nanotechnologies that could be used to deliver simple to implement solutions, compatible with implementation at all levels of military medical care (e.g., from the battlefield to major military centers in the US), for peripheral nerve injuries in the military. The proposed research will seek to develop novel nanotechnologies to repair or protect mangled nerves or muscle through a one-time intervention, lasting only a few milliseconds. The goal is to potentiate endogenous reparative mechanisms based on the novel concept of tissue nanotransfection (TNT)-driven reprogramming, which can either replace the current standard of care for nerve injuries in the military or delay progressive nerve damage until proper surgical intervention. TNT is a technology developed by PI, Gallego-Perez, which can be used to deliver therapeutic genes into tissues in a fast (e.g., it only takes a one-time intervention lasting ~100 milliseconds), benign (e.g., it does not cause tissue damage or deleterious side effects), and effective manner (e.g., superior performance to status quo gene delivery methodologies).

Please join us in congratulating Dr. Gallego-Perez and his team for this outstanding accomplishment!