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Nanomedicine Overview and its Applications
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Nanotechnology is relatively new discipline, but it’s already incorporated in every aspect of our lives, including medicine. Drug delivery, imaging, cancer detection & treatment, cell and tissue repair, as well as development of novel medical tools and devices have undergone major transformations and significant improvements after nanotechnology is applied.

Classic medical treatments are dealing with few problems. Drugs are given in higher doses to ensure that they’ll exert anticipated action before they get metabolized and excreted. All drugs have some sort of adverse effects, and as higher dose (or prolonged treatment) is used – more damage to the healthy cells will be induced. Before any kind of therapy is prescribed, body needs to be examined. In serious cases, when cancer is present, imaging is what determines the course of treatment. If tumor is not visualized and assessed well – therapy will probably fail. Cancer treatment is problem for itself because most medical approaches affect surrounding healthy cells and induce detrimental effect on the body as a whole. When drugs can’t help, surgical operation can be solution. Incision is making more or less damage on the tissues and organs that need to be sewed fast and carefully. That’s not always simple thing to do. And finally, some hot spots in the body are hard to reach or need to be treated efficiently before infection (for example) starts spreading. All of these problems could be solved using nanotechnology.

Bioavailability is term used to describe amount of drug available in the part of the body where it’s most needed. 65 million dollars are spent each year due to low bioavailability of the marketed drugs. Latest drug delivery systems are designed to increase bioavailability so that drug could exert its action without affecting the rest of the body. Targeted action is accomplished by creating drug delivery systems that are able to pass silently (to avoid immune reaction), to travel long distances to reach disease area and to release the drug after they enter sick cells. Nanocarrier is largest part of this system and their role is to recognize blood vessels that are supplying affected tissue. Once in the right vessels, nanocarriers start to degrade resulting in subsequent release of the nanoparticles with drug. They will continue the journey through small pores in the blood vessels until they finally enter sick cell. This system is using lower concentration of drug than conventional therapy because its action is targeted and localized.

Imaging and diagnostics are essential to provide best therapeutic solutions. Some nanoparticles are recognizing proteins indicative of certain types of carcinoma (carbon nanotubes and gold nanoparticles can efficiently detect oral carcinoma). Quantum dots can be used for cancer detection as they are emitting light when combined with MRI. Fluorescent quantum dots are producing high quality contrast image but safety of this method is not confirmed yet. MRI imaging of the tumor can be improved using iron oxide nanoparticles combined with peptide that binds to the tumor cells. Identification of the viruses and bacteria can be done once they are separated from the blood using the silver nanorods. Gold nanoparticles carrying antibodies are used for the detection of the flu virus.

Tumor targeting can be accomplished by drug delivery system. Paclitaxel (mitotic inhibitor) coated with albumin (altogether known as abraxane) is targeting breast cancer. Another way to destroy tumor is to use heat therapy by designing antibodies (that will bind to the target cells) combined with nanotubes. After infrared laser is applied, nanotubes will absorb energy and radiate heat to its environment (burning down tumor cells).

Flesh welder could be used for fusing dissected vessels. Gold coated shells and infrared laser could reconnect blood vessels during the surgery and especially after organ transplantation.

“Hard to reach places” such as damaged joints can be healed using the nanofibers that could stimulate cartilage production. Staphylococcal infections could be treated using cream with nanoparticles containing nitric oxide gas. Wound could be treated against infection using nanocrystalline silver as silver is known bacterial killer. Besides that, wound could be treated with nanocapsules containing antibiotics. Trigger for antibiotic release is bacterial overgrowth, which guarantee immediate action and quicker treatment.

Nanotechnology improved healing methods by targeting diseased cells, by increasing drug bioavailability, by improving diagnostic and imaging techniques and by effective treatments. There are a lot of other nanotech options that could save or prolong our lives and that are under investigation right now. Ultimate goal is to develop molecular machines that will recognize and enter sick cell and induce reorganization in molecular structures and biochemical processes until the “healthy state” is reestablished.
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