Nanotechnology refers to the engineering of material properties and structure on a nanoscale, usually applying dimensions that are a fraction of the thickness of human hair.Futurists have speculated for a long time that nanotechnology will change almost every aspect of the human life with its numerous applications in various fields including medicine.
Nanomedicine has proven to have a broad range of applications, holding endless possibilities for more efficient drug delivery systems to combat life-threatening diseases soon.With the help of nanomedicine diagnosis, early detection of and prevention, treatment as well as the follow-up can be made much easier.
Below are some of the applications of nanotechnology in medicine;
Drug Delivery Systems
Nanoparticles can be designed to deliver drugs to specific morbid sites.Using Nanomedicine for drug delivery will ensure the correct dose is used and minimise the side effects as well as cut down the dosage and cost of treatment because the active agent is deposited on the affected region only.Complex delivery systems that can get past the cell membrane into cytoplasm are being designed to increase efficiency.
Another important medical application of nanotechnology is triggered response.Drugs can be induced in the body in a form where they only activate when triggered by a particular signal.Regulated drug release in the body can minimise, if not eradicate tissue damage as a side effect.
At Case Western Reserve University, scientists used nano particle chains to test the effectiveness of delivering the drug doxorubicin to breast cancer cells in mice.The nanoparticles were introduced into the tumour and then caused to rupture and release the drug by subjecting them to a radio-frequency field.The study showed that tumour growth was stopped faster with this method compared to the standard treatment method with the same drug.
Researchers at Harvard University Wyss Institute have had success in a mouse model in which they tested the effectiveness of nanoparticles in reducing bleeding.The study gave a limelight i the application of the nanotherapeutics in aiding standard thrombosis treatment by reducing bleeding.
In operative dentistry, nanotechnology comes in handy by enabling the development and utilisation of substances and equipment at the atomic and molecular scales.Progress has been made in developing nanomaterials that are extra durable and resistant to wear and offer modern aestheticism due to their unique polishability and unique lustre retention.
In the near dentistry future, it might be possible to obtain filler material with shape and composition that closely resembles the mechanical and optical behaviour of a natural tooth's enamel and dentin.
Neurodegenerative disorders result in diseases such as Alzheimer's disease (AD) and Parkinson's disease.Through nanotechnology, management of CNS (central nervous system) conditions has been made easier.There is significant hope for prevention, early detection and treatment of such illnesses with the application of nanotechnology.
Alzheimer's disease is the most common CNS condition worldwide, affecting well over 30 million folks.It is possible to treat AD by use of a plethora of nanoparticulate nature.The plethora may be designed specifically to get to the brain capillary endothelial cells.
Parkinson's disease (PD) comes second to Alzheimer's as the most common neurodegenerative disease.Statistics show that it affects one out of every hundred people living above the age of 65.Although current therapies cannot degrade the degenerative process, they can support the functional capability of the patient to last longer.Nanotechnology Research is being conducted alongside cell biology, neuropathology and neuro physiology advancements to achieve protection and regeneration of the central nervous system.One outstanding development is in the design of an intracranial nano-enabled scaffold device (NESD) which can minimise the effects of common forms of PD therapy.The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is funding an international collaboration led by Brown University.They are working towards engineering a cortical intranet of up to 100,000 wireless brain implant micro devices, controlled by a central hub that can be worn.Such kind of nanotechnology may prove essential in combating CNS related diseases very soon.
Scientists at the Imperial College London have experimented with a recent form of nanoparticle called metal-organic frameworks (MOF).MOF creates tiny cages measuring less than 100 nanometers, which can be used to deliver drug molecules to specific lung cells.They believe it can be used to treat patients suffering from pulmonary arterial hypertension. "The hope is that using this approach will allow high concentrations of drugs we already have to be delivered to only the lung, and reduce side effects", said Professor Jane Mitchell, who led the research.
Advancements in nanotechnology have also promised a more efficient method of dealing with tuberculosis.The extended treatment period and heavy dosage for TB can interfere with one's lifestyle or result in multi-drug resistant (MDR) strains.Nanomedicines offer a promising approach in shortening the duration of treatment and dealing with the drug resistance issue.
Nanotechnology is a rapidly developing field in the medical industry.It offers limitless possibilities for combating a broad range of diseases.It is possible that patients with chronic conditions such as Cancer, HIV, CNS illnesses and Lung related conditions will find an efficient solution in nanomedicine.