The use of nanoparticles and other nanoscale materials has been gathering a lot of significant interest in recent years and has even adapted into its own interdisciplinary field of science known as nanomedicine. Whilst there are still some issues to be ironed out within the nanomedicine field, it has brought about great advances within medicine, including many nanoparticle-based therapies for cancer. Given that the alternative to such treatments is longer periods of intensive chemotherapy and radiotherapy (although some therapies still use these processes but the cancer killing effects are more enhanced), there has been a lot of research dedicated to fighting cancer within the nanomedicine sector.
Cancer is currently on the rise. Currently, around every 1 in 8 males in the UK will be diagnosed with prostate cancer, with there being a significantly higher risk if the males are older, or if there is a pre-existing history of the cancer in the family. There are a range of nanoparticle therapeutic treatments undergoing developments, some of which are used to enhance the effects of chemotherapy and radiotherapy, whereas others deliver specific drugs to cancer cells.
Nanocarrier vessels are the most widely used therapeutic treatment for all types of cancer, as it enables the cancer-killing drug payload to be delivered to a specific site of interest (i.e. the tumour), whereupon the drug is released to the cancer cells, thus destroying them, whilst leaving the surrounding healthy cells undamaged. The same is true for prostate cancer, where specific drugs designed to kill prostate cancer cells can be loaded into the nanocarriers. Even though their regulatory viability is questionable, nanocarriers offer a much safer route to killing cancer cells (i.e. without causing unnecessary damage to healthy tissue), but not all nanocarriers are a viable option because of their inability to be excreted efficiently.
A lot of research in the early days of nanocarrier drug delivery systems focused on vessels of an inorganic nature, yet these are the types that are troublesome to break down or excrete. This has caused a shift in the types of nanocarrier vessels undergoing research at the fundamental level nowadays, and the shift has been towards organic-based vessels, such as liposomes. The shift has been attributed to a few factors, such as a much wider range of usable delivery vessels, but the most significant factors as to why organic nanocarriers are being used more and more is due to their much higher bioavailability, biocompatibility and the ability to be excreted by the body.
Another growing area, both academically and commercially, is the use of magnetic nanoparticles, i.e. nanoparticles composed of iron oxide to thermally treat cancer cells. Whilst iron oxide nanoparticles themselves are not highly biocompatible, their surface can be functionalized with biocompatible organic groups, such as polyethylene glycol (PEG), to make them suitable for use within the body. These particles can be directed remotely using an external magnetic field to the site of interest. Once the nanoparticles reach the cancerous site, they can be activated to undergo Brownian motion, which releases heat and destroys the cancer cells.
Image Credit: shutterstock.com/KaterynaKon
News This Week
Nearly a third of physicians will be sued at least once in their careers — most commonly for an error in diagnosis. Medical errors are also the third-leading cause of death in the United [...]
Inventors and scientists have been continuously working towards reducing the size of technological components. Room-sized computers to laptops that are slimmer than a pane of glass? It’s done. Huge bulky telephones to smartphones that [...]
You have witnessed a variety of nano-devices that were designed for tasks including delivering medicines within the body. All of them used to move in a variety of ways. However, the latest nano-device is [...]
Netra Rajesh is an undergraduate Engineering Science student specializing in Biomedical Systems Engineering. She is currently on her Professional Experience Year (PEY) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where her research lies at the [...]
Nearly half of the companies in Europe that call themselves AI start-ups don't in fact use artificial intelligence, a new report found. The research, published Tuesday by London-based venture capital firm MMC Ventures, found [...]
A new quantum sensor developed by researchers at the University of Waterloo's Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) has proven it can outperform existing technologies and promises significant advancements in long-range 3D imaging and monitoring [...]
Summary: Researchers use nanotech to enhance vision in mice, enabling them to see infrared light as well as visible light. Source: Cell Press. Mice with vision enhanced by nanotechnology were able to see infrared [...]
Immune Aspects of Biopharmaceuticals and Nanomedicines Available from CRC Press 1st Edition Raj Bawa, Janos Szebeni, Thomas J Webster, Gerald F. Audette The enormous advances in the immunology of biotherapeutics and nanomedicines in the [...]
Artificial Intelligence - Ethics, Governance and Policy Challenges by Andrea Renda and CEPS Think Tank released. About the report: CEPS is launching a Task Force to try to bring back the AI debate to [...]
The Nanofacturing consortium has worked on a pan-European nanopharmaceutical project to develop new manufacturing methods and improve supply chain co-ordination to advance treatments for rare cancers, autoimmune diseases and viral infections. The Nanofacturing collaboration [...]
You know those little motes or floaters you that you sometimes see moving in your vision? Well, someday very soon, those could be robots. An international team of medical researchers has unveiled a new [...]
Scientists at the Helmholtz Zentrum München, a partner in the German Center for Lung Research, have presented a new imaging method in the scientific journal ACS Nano ("Three-Dimensional Quantitative Co-Mapping of Pulmonary Morphology and [...]