By: Ishika Kohli
It is common for people to know about bacterial diseases and viral diseases, the normal public understands how antibiotics are used as medication against bacteria, whereas in some diseases (viral), antibiotics cannot be used. But do they understand how the infection process occurs? Do they understand that sickness starts at the cellular level? Thankful for the general public, scientists are using this information to try and further treatments from something as simple to a disease to something as monumental as cancer by using nanotechnology.
Nanotechnology is technology at the nano side, as seen by the name, so 10-9 size. This technology allows diseases to be combated at a cellular level rather than instigating a whole body response as normal medication does. There are many different types being experimented, however, a couple stand out as possible contenders for the human body. These examples include using gold nanoshells, wound treatment, and prevention.
The gold nanoshells are just one type of application for nanotechnology, and these shells have a multitude of purposes. To begin with, because they are made of gold, the body can use light from outside to be converted to energy, and this helps with cancer treatment. Once light is exposed to these nanoshells, they are able to explode and create energy. This assists with the release of the anti-cancer drug that the nanoshells may contain, thus making this a viable treatment. The side effects will be lowered if the treatment is released at the correct cancerous cell and stays away from any normal cells in the proximity. How does the nanoshell do this? The nanoshells can also be programmed to find the certain cancerous cells they are looking for, for example they may have a genetic sequence programmed, and only kill cells with that certain sequence, or they make have markers on their surface that match the surface proteins on the cancerous cells.
Another use of nanotechnology can be wound treatment, and in this the nanoshells create fibers which are able to help clot faster. As we know, the clotting cascade that currently exists does work, however in cases of major blood loss such as an amputation, the clotting of the body is not enough. This helps reduce blood loss which will help keep the patient healthier and maybe even alive depending on the situation. The nanotechnology may also be used for prevention, as it is able to detect gene sequences in cells, which in turn will lead to information regarding risk factors. To put this in context, those missing or having a mutated p53 gene may have a higher chance of cancer, so identifying that early on will lead the person to have tests more frequently to ensure the safest outcome.
As one can see, nanotechnology holds a lot of promise for the future, and there is a lot of research being conducted that was not mentioned in this article. By going on a cellular level, many diseases may be cured/prevented due to the accuracy of such a small treatment. However, because it is so small, it is hard to research due to the fact that we cannot see it; only the future will tell how successful we are.