Nanomedicine is the application of nanotechnology in the field of medicine. It is the improvement and preservation of human health with the help of molecular tools. Nanotechnology in medicine includes areas like nanoparticle drug delivery diagnostics, gene therapy, etc. As we know that the human body is made up of molecules, the possibility of molecular nanotechnology can bring about revolutionary progress in the field of medicine. It can help us to understand the biological machinery present inside living cells operate at the nanoscale allowing it to be used in molecular machine systems for addressing complicated medical conditions including AIDS, cancer, aging, etc. Thereby bringing about a significant improvement in the human biological function and structure at the molecular scale.
Let us find out some of the most useful Nanotechnology applications!
Nanomedicine research in the field of drug delivery shows a lot of potentials. Nanoscale molecules are being developed to improve the pharmacodynamic and pharmacokinetic properties of drugs. Improvement of drug bioavailability is one of the vital Nanotechnology applications. It means making it possible for the drug molecule to reach only that body part in which it is needed. It aims at delivering drugs along with cell precision.
The use of nanorobots is set to revolutionize the world of medicine. They can be used to detect and repair infections and body damages; thus, changing the conventional approach for treating different kinds of diseases.
Both proteins and peptides are termed as biopharmaceuticals. They are known to have a range of biological actions on the human body, thus showing immense potential for treating different diseases. Controlled delivery of such macromolecules with the help of nanomaterials, including dendrimers and nanoparticles, has emerged as a revolutionary phase in nanobiopharmaceutics. These products are known as nanobiopharmaceuticals and can be devised as receptor-specific. They can be resistant to unspecific degradation and deliver peptides in the encapsulated form to delay their degradation.
Various therapy techniques have come up as a result of the use of nanotechnology in medicine. Nanosponges are used for absorbing toxins and eliminating them from the bloodstream. They are polymer nanoparticles that are encapsulated in a red blood cell membrane, which allows the nanosponges to move freely in the bloodstream while absorbing toxins.
Researchers are also investigating the usage of bismuth nanoparticles for concentrating radiation that is used in radiation therapy for the treatment of cancer. Initial results have indicated that these bismuth nanoparticles can increase the dose of radiation to the cancer tumor by 90%.
The use of nanotubes has brought about a positive change in the field of non-invasive surgery. They are attached to antibodies that strongly attract those proteins that are produced in cancerous tumors. This is further used for blasting tumors and cancer cells without causing any damage to healthy tissues.
Researchers have developed sensors using carbon nanotubes that can be embedded in a gel. These can be injected underneath the skin for monitoring the nitric oxide level in the bloodstream. The nitric oxide level can indicate inflammation, thus, helping a great deal in the detection of inflammatory diseases.
Also, researchers have come up with a way to use nanoparticles for the early diagnosis of different kinds of infectious diseases. Furthermore, tests for the early detection of kidney damaged are also being developed. Gold nanorods that are attracted to proteins released by damaged kidneys are used in this method.
This is yet another popular among nanotechnology applications. A disorder or a disorder can be the result of a defective gene. With the help of intracellular gene delivery, the expression of a particular gene may be altered, and a defective gene can be corrected. Nonviral vectors are used excessively as a means of gene delivery system owing to their flexibility and safety as compared to viral vectors. Research is being conducted to use nanoparticles as gene delivery carriers; for instance, nanoparticles of PEG-modified gelatine can encapsulate plasmid DNA. Liposomes and solid lipid nanoparticles can also be used as gene transfer carriers.
Despite the varied nanotechnology applications, nanotechnology in medicine has its share of limitations. Let us know more about this!
The high research and development cost of nanotechnology applications is a significant point of concern. These new technologies thriving in the medical field are not feasible financially for the poor section of the society. In most cases, they are inaccessible and unaffordable. In fact, nanotechnology in medicine and its applications is also beyond the reach of the middle-class people. Unless you have the resources to meet the huge expenses or have a good sponsorship, nanomedicine is undoubtedly not for you.
Indeed, nanomedicine can also be used negatively; thus, there remains the need to be extra cautious regarding its use. As these medicines are micro-sized, they can be embedded inside anyone’s body leading to misuse of the original purpose of these medicines.
The issue of toxicity is a valid point of concern regarding nanomedicine and its applications. We know that elements at the microscopic level exhibit properties different from the properties they exhibit at standard conditions. Also, each nanoparticle is unique, and it is seen that sometimes more than one of the same nanoparticles show inconsistent properties and effects. Due to these reasons, nanoparticles can have dangerous effects on human health both in the short and long term. The toxicity is known to increase with the increase in the dose of nanomedicine and its exposure. Such high doses can induce membrane damage and decrease in cell viability or proliferation.
It is found that nanoparticles generate oxidative stress and ROS, leading to degenerative diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. Though nanomedicine has shown immense potential for improving the efficiency of drug delivery, one major drawback here is that nanoparticles possess the power to cause damage to the human lungs. They can also cause immune effects, systemic effects, and pulmonary inflammation. Uptake of nanoparticles via the olfactory epithelium can again happen, and this may result in epithelial cell injury, which can disrupt the proper functioning of the nose.
Nanomedicine and nanoparticles are known to cause harmful effects not only to patients but also to the environment. Therefore, it needs proper processing before its disposal. Non-biodegradable nanoparticles are known to cause air, water, and land pollution. Also, it is difficult to forecast their ill effects on the environment, and it has not been ascertained whether it has a detrimental impact on the biome. It is seen that if they enter the bio network through plants, it would be highly challenging to eliminate them.
It cannot be denied that nanotechnology in medicine holds great promise for improving the diagnosis and treatment of a wide variety of diseases. We can now conclude that with such a wide range of applications, nanotechnology does have an endless scope. However, with its limitations, this technology should be tested on more realistic grounds to ordain the fact that it will be beneficial to people in the long run. Such kind of thorough testing is a must to avoid unexpected and adverse effects. For this, there needs to be an equilibrium between the safety of materials used and the treatment efficacy. Thus, it is required to go for a situational approach while assessing the pros and cons of using nanoparticles for medical diagnosis as well as treatment
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