Nanotechnology is the technology meant to work on tiny scales. It is so small that we cannot see it with the naked eye, as the scale at which it works is about 1 to 100 nanometers (and 1 nanometer is a billionth of a meter).
Nanotechnology has brought a revolution in the fields of science and engineering. Fields such as Chemistry, Physics, Biology, Engineering, material science- all employ nanotechnology for one purpose or the other. Talking of the application in sciences, nanotechnology has revolutionized the medical field. A variety of benefits of nanomedicine have come to light since its introduction.
We shall see some of the applications of nanotechnology in medicine, its benefits, and how nanotechnology can contribute to the medical and technical field.
A brief overview of the applications of Nanotechnology
There has been sustained research in basic nanotechnology, as a result of which nanotechnology can be applied in fields such as material science, electronics and IT, medicine and healthcare, energy, environment, etc. There are some application of nanotechnology which we shall see further in this article.
In Material sciences:
- nanotechnology can be applied to make different materials of our choice in order to achieve desired properties.
- With nanotechnology, materials can be made such as they are lightweight, more reactive, more durable, better conductors, stronger, etc.
- Using different techniques, we can now make-
- fabrics that resist wrinkling;
- Displays, screens windows or glasses that are water, scratch, infrared light and ultraviolet light resistant;
- Lightweight materials which can include cars, trucks, airplanes, bicycles, luggage items etc.
How nanotechnology can contribute in IT field? is a valid question since nanotechnology has evolved over the years and is making its way through most of the sectors. In electronics and IT, nanotechnology has come at revolutionary intensity.
- Now we can make transistors that are capable of holding an entire computer’s memory in a tiny chip.
- The MRAM technology (magnetic random-access memory) will reduce the computer's boot up time to almost an instant.
- Electronics are now flexible, stretchable, foldable and bendable.
- Hearing aids, flexible and HD displays all owe to nanotechnology.
With the applications of nanotechnology in Energy, we are left with more eco-friendly alternatives. With the world’s increasing energy demands, we are left with no choice other than to develop cleaner, eco-friendlier and more affordable energy sources.
- Currently, there is a huge power loss when the energy is transmitted to long distances. With this technology, we can build wires that have low resistance; thus, they reduce the power loss more effectively than the high-tension wires we are carrying currently.
- Solar panels can convert sunlight to electricity more efficiently through nanotechnology.
- Batteries that hold high power backup can also be made.
It is astonishing how nanotechnology can contribute to the field of Environment as well.
- Now water can be purified more thoroughly. The detection of impurities is also easier, as well as low-cost.
- Nanoparticles can neutralize or clean the industrial water pollutants.
- More efficient air filters can be designed.
All of these applications are undoubtedly game-changers.
Nanotechnology in Medicine: A Saviour
Since the introduction of Nanotechnology, scientists are anticipating its huge potential in the field of medicine. As of now, nanotechnology is already being used in the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of diseases. With the ongoing research, we hope to develop efficient medical tools, therapies and methods which will make human life safer and healthier.
Let us look at some of the prominent applications and benefits of nanomedicine below
- Perhaps the greatest use of Nanotechnology currently stands in the treatment of cancer. Such nanoparticles are developed which can deliver medication directly to the cancer cells. This mode of medicinal delivery keeps the healthy tissues intact, and significantly reduces the toxic effects of chemotherapy.
- Nanoparticles can be used to detect the targeted nucleic acids, which are the evidence of cancer development.
- Nanotechnology enables better imaging of things which helps in the earlier diagnosis of diseases.
- Nanotech can be used to diagnose and treat the buildup of plaque in arteries. In a recent study, the researchers mimicked the ‘good’ cholesterol which made the plaque shrink noticeably.
- Growing organs for transplant will be easier with the experimentations of growing complex tissues through nanotech.
- Graphene Nanoribbons* can help to repair spinal cord injuries.
*Graphene Nanoribbons are narrow strips of graphene with a width less than 50 nm.
- Vaccine delivery without needles would be possible through this technology.
Some great benefits of Nanomedicine
Now it is quite evident how nanotechnology is taking great leaps in medicine. Targeted drug delivery, new methods of diagnosis, and imaging have been developed. We shall now look at the benefits of nanomedicine.
The benefits of nanomedicine can be seen in its subfields, such as Nanotherapeutics, Nanodiagnostics and Nanotheranostics.
Benefits of Nanotherapeutics
In order to achieve a successful therapy, proper drug delivery is a must. With nanotherapeutics, the drug delivery can be made spot on.
- Absorbability of medicines can be ensured. Drugs that are administered through nanotech can be absorbed quickly, and on the other hand can be removed as well, so as to clean the waste from the body.
- Nanomedicine can significantly increase the time period during which the medicine can remain in the body, hence effective therapy.
- A reduction in drug quantity means targeted treatment. Nanomedicine ensures the slightest quantity of medicine gives the best results.
- Nanotherapeutics also provide site-specific drug delivery, which is essential for the treatment of inflammatory diseases. If the drug delivery is not specific, the blood vessel leakage occurs.
Benefits of Nanodiagnostics
Nanomaterials can effectively detect the tumors and other diseases’ cells because these materials have distinct kinds of optical, magnetic and structural properties.
- Diagnostic imaging is used in order to identify and monitor diseases in the body.
- The current medical imaging methods can be improved by applying nanotechnology. More detailed imagining is possible, which will definitely enhance the diagnostics.
Benefits of Nanotheranostics
Thernostics sure looks like a dreadful word, but it is simply the combination of therapy and diagnostics.
So, through Nanotheranostics we can deliver personalized medicines to the patients. For example, by using nanotechnology in medicine cancer we can treat some cancer patients with appropriate medicines, which works exclusively for them. By combining the imaging agents used for diagnosis with the chemo-therapeutic agents, we can provide the best possible therapy to cancer patients.
So, these were some advanced nanomedicine examples that are being used currently.
We should note that at the present times, the nanoparticles come with a great cost. These treatments pose a considerably high financial burden in comparison to the regular medicines. One such example is of an anticancer drug called Doxorubicin. The regular price of this drug was around $62-$162, but when this same drug was contained in the nanoparticle Doxil, the prices rose up to $5,594.
Hence the cost of nanotechnology in medicine is currently very high. But it is justified in some cases, particularly in cancer cases, because the patients are experiencing lesser toxic effects through nanomedicine, in contrast to those who received treatment with “free” anticancer drugs.
We have seen some applications of nanotechnology above. Nanotechnology is a miracle in itself. The nanoparticles are tiny but they carry huge potential. The Nanomedicine field is just in its infancy. And yet, we already have pills that can conduct surgery, and tiny robots that can move through the bloodstream to “grab out” the cancer cells by the collar to throw them out of the human body.
Thanks to nanotechnology, an unprecedented transformation of the medical field is now inevitable.