Nano-Technology and Medicine
Nano-Materials have proven many times that they have potential in Bio-Medicine applications. An example of some materials being used right now are nano-fibers, nano-particles and nano-spheres for as many things from regenerating nerve or muscle cells to preventing diseases directly or indirectly by delivering drugs into target areas.
In areas of regeneration, nano-materials have been constructed into scaffolds which allow the body to regenerate cells faster. Nano-fiber scaffolds have been used to regenerate nerve cells called Oligodendrocytes which help Myelinate or insulate and protect nerve axons. Other similar structures have been used to help with healing of skin wounds. These technologies can help cure many diseases involving neurons such as Parkinson’s or Multiple Sclerosis for example without any collateral damage to the body.
Other applications include using nano-particles for killing off bacteria. Particles of silver, zinc, gold and copper have been shown to kill bacteria on contact or prevent their replication and incorporating them into fabrics in hospitals can prevent many infections. Gold, specifically, can be used to form what are called nano-bubbles when heated with lasers and can either punch holes in diseased cells - allowing drugs to get through - or bursting the bubble causing the cell to die.
Nano-technology can also prevent disease or infections indirectly by acting as vehicles for drug transportation in the body. Nano-particles can be designed to take the shape of spheres which can hold many types of drugs from anti-cancer drugs to antigens for preventing autoimmune diseases. These ‘vehicles’ can be programmed - using ligands - to target specific cells like cancer cells for example allowing for much more precise treatments. Cancer types ranging from Bladder, Pediatric and Colorectal cancer (among others) have been treated using these techniques.
This field is steadily rising and I can not wait to see what its future holds.
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