Nanotechnology in Medicine - Nanoparticles in Medicine

The use of nanotechnology in medicine offers some exciting possibilities. Some techniques are only imagined, while others are at various stages of testing, or actually being used today.

Nanotechnology in medicine involves applications of nanoparticles currently under development, as well as longer range research that involves the use of manufactured nano-robots to make repairs at the cellular level (sometimes referred to as nanomedicine).

Whatever you call it, the use of nanotechnology in the field of medicine could revolutionize the way we detect and treat damage to the human body and disease in the future, and many techniques only imagined a few years ago are making remarkable progress towards becoming realities.

Nanotechnology in Medicine Application: Drug Delivery

One application of nanotechnology in medicine currently being developed involves employing nanoparticles to deliver drugs, heat, light or other substances to specific types of cells (such as cancer cells). Particles are engineered so that they are attracted to diseased cells, which allows direct treatment of those cells. This technique reduces damage to healthy cells in the body and allows for earlier detection of disease.

For example researchers at North Carolina State University are developing a method to deliver cardiac stem cells to damaged heart tissue. They attach nanovesicles that are attracted to an injury to the stem cells to increase the amount of stem cells delivered to an injured tissue.

Read more about nanomedicine in drug delivery.

Nanotechnology in Medicine Application: Diagnostic Techniques

Researchers at Worcester Polytechnic Institute are using antibodies attached to carbon nanotubes in chips to detect cancer cells in the blood stream. The researchers believe this method could be used in simple lab tests that could provide early detection of cancer cells in the bloodstream.

A test for early detection of kidney damage is being developed. The method uses gold nanorods functionalized to attach to the type of protein generated by damaged kidneys. When protein accumulates on the nanorod the color of the nanorod shifts. The test is designed to be done quickly and inexpensively for early detection of a problem.

Read more about nanomedicine diagnostic techniques.

Nanotechnology in Medicine Application: Antibacterial Treatments

Researchers at the University of Houston are developing a technique to kill bacteria using gold nanoparticles and infrared light. This method may lead to improved cleaning of instruments in hospital settings.

Researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder are investigating the use of quantum dots to treat antibiotic resistant infections.

Read more about nanomedicine antibacterial treatments.

Nanotechnology in Medicine Application: Wound Treatment

Researchers at the University of Wisconsin have demonstrated a bandage that applies electrical pulses to a wound using electricity produced by nanogenerators worn by the patient.

For trauma patients with internal bleeding another way to reduce the blood loss is needed. Researchers at Chase Western Reserve University are developing polymer nanoparticles that act as synthetic platelets. Lab tests have shown that injection of these synthetic platelets significantly reduces blood loss.

Read more about nanomedicine wound treatments.

Nanotechnology in Medicine Application: Cell Repair

Nanorobots could actually be programmed to repair specific diseased cells, functioning in a similar way to antibodies in our natural healing processes.  Read about design analysis for one such cell repair nanorobot in this article: The Ideal Gene Delivery Vector: Chromallocytes, Cell Repair Nanorobots for Chromosome Repair Therapy

Nanotechnology in Medicine: Company Directory

Company Product
CytImmune Gold nanoparticles for targeted delivery of drugs to tumors
BlueWillow Nanoemulsions for nasal delivery to fight viruses (such as the flu and colds) or through the skin to fight bacteria

More nanomedicine companies

Nanotechnology in Medicine: Resources

National Cancer Institute Alliance for Nanotechnology in Cancer; This alliance includes a Nanotechnology Characterization Lab as well as eight Centers of  Cancer Nanotechnology Excellence.

Alliance for NanoHealth; This alliance includes eight research institutions performing collaborative research.

European Nanomedicine platform

The National Institute of Health (NIH) is funding research at eight Nanomedicine Development Centers.

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