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 number of stem cells delivered to injured tissue.
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 bloodstream. 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.