Applications of Nanotechnology in Medicine
The use of nanotechnology in medicine is revolutionizing the way diseases are diagnosed, prevented and treated. Currently many researchers are using Nanoparticles to deliver drugs to targeted location in human body, or to treat and diagnose diseases and even to repair damaged cells.
Nanoparticles as Drug Delivery System
Nanoparticles can be used to deliver drugs, heat, light or other substances to specific types of cells (such as cancer cells). Particles are engineered to target the diseased cells, which allows direct and targeted treatment of those cells and avoids healthy cells damage. Currently, researchers are developing nanoparticles that can deliver chemotherapy drugs directly to cancer cells.
Nanoparticles as Therapy Technique
Nanoparticles can also be used to treat some conditions. For example nanoparticles called “nanosponges” are used to absorb toxins and remove them from the bloodstream. These nanosponges are polymer nanoparticles coated with a red blood cell membrane that allows them to travel freely in the bloodstream and attract the toxins. Another example of therapy technique is the targeted heat therapy that has been developed to destroy breast cancer tumors. In this method nanotubes accumulate at the tumor and following a laser application they absorb the infrared light and produce heat that incinerates the tumor.
Nanoparticles as Diagnostic Technique
Nanoparticles with sensors are embedded in a gel that can be injected under the skin to monitor the level of nitric oxide in the bloodstream. The level of nitric oxide indicates inflammation, allowing easy monitoring of inflammatory diseases and early diagnosis of infectious diseases.
Nanoparticles as Anti-Microbial Technique
Nanoparticles containing nitric oxide gas are incorporated in topical creams and used to treat local staph abscesses. Nanocapsules containing antibiotics are also incorporated into burn dressing products used to treat burns. This allows much quicker treatment of an infection and reduces the number of times a dressing has to be changed.
Nanoparticles for Cell Repair
Nanoparticles can be programmed to repair specific diseased cells. In this case they function like antibodies in our natural healing processes.