The application of nanotechnology to the realm of medicine holds the most promise of all. It has been coined 'nanomedicine' and there is currently countless different uses for the new nanotechnology. From diagnosis and treatment, to new delivery methods. Some of the areas which show the highest potential are cancer treatment, drug delivery, diagnostic tests, bone treatments, imaging and even curing disease and repairing damaged tissues. One of the key areas that nanomedicine is hoping to improve is a more 'targeted' drug delivery systems, which will provide more effective cure with less side effects for the patient. Below are just a few of the future concepts that will revolutionise the face of medicine.
Smart Drugs/Magic Bullets
A model of 'magic bullet' idea. http://www.sciencedaily.com/images/ 2010/03/100317161950.jpg
Magic Bullets (or 'smart drugs') are an experimental new technique which involves tiny nanotubes that encapsulates drugs for transport to the tumour or 'target' cells or organ. Researchers are currently working on DNA nanotubes that releases the drug when a specific DNAstrand is added. This will replace current ineffective treatments, where only a very small amount of drug will actually ends up at the intended cells (the tumour). This revolutionary method will cause less side effects and be more far more effective at drug delivery than traditional therapies, such as Chemotherapy which gives the patient terrible side-effects such as hair loss and nausea.
The Transdermal Patch (TDP) is an adhesive patch which contains 'micro-sized' needles that in a painless way can penetrate the skin in order to deliver nano-formulated vaccines or drugs. Some of the benefits of using the Transdermal Patch (because its nano-sized particles) include: being able to inject directly into the immune system, the lower dosages means less side effects, it can achieve short and long-term delivery and is more cost effective due to the ability for mass production. The TDP is just one of several innovations that use nanotechnology for quick and safe delivery of required product into the human body.
Nanobots (also known as 'nano doctors') are microscopic robots that will in the future hopefully be able to travel inside the human body to deliver drugs, build other machines or even perhaps perform microsurgery. They could also be used to search out and mend damage to body tissue. Nanobots are the next generation of the previous 'nanomachines', and are aimed at being able to sense and then adapt to environmental stimuli (such as sounds, light and heat) in the human body. They have the ability to move around, communicate, work together and even repair and self-replicate.
Below is a short video which delves into the use and effects of the transdermal patch.