Use of Nanotechnology in Healthcare

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What are the Applications of Nanotechnology in Medicine?

'When a lot of remedies are suggested for a disease, that means it cannot be cured.'- Anton Chekov

Nanotechnology today finds its application in all fields of science, be it physics, chemistry, biology, engineering and material science.

Enormous potential prevails in healthcare as well, right from drug delivery, diagnosing disease, delivering vaccines by aerosols and patches, and even use of intelligent medical implants for heart, tissues and bones, hips, eyes, etc.

Nanotech in Implants

Nanotechnology in Brain Implants

Nanotechnology provides several potential solutions to brain diseases. For example, an implant made of a silky mesh studded with tiny electronic devices has the potential to be used in conditions like Parkinsonís disease. When the mesh was implanted into the mouse brain, it was found to unfurl to spy on and stimulate individual nerve cells.

Nanotechnology in Heart Disease

Heart attack or heart failure often damages and weakens the heart muscle. By using nanotechnology, scientists at Childrenís Hospital Boston and MIT have found innovative methods which could possibly be used to strengthen the weakened and scarred heart tissue. One of them is the use of minute nanoparticles that carry stem cells, growth factors, drugs and other therapeutic compounds to the damaged muscle. These nanoparticles or guided missiles secrete medicine at slow rate, and help in treating the damaged heart tissue. Another method is the use of implants that are laced with gold and contain cardiac cells. Such an implant could help the heart to beat normally.

Nanotechnology in Heart Disease

Nanotechnology for Breast Implants

Nanotechnology holds promise for having safer breast implants. A review published in WIREs Nanomedicine and Nanobiotechnology says that safer breast implants using nanotechnology could be an alternative to silicone in the future thereby minimizing complications due to the silicone implants like systemic diseases, cancer and psychological disease. Such implants may also be able to deliver cancer drugs locally, thus improving treatment efficacy and reducing side effects linked with chemotherapy.

Nanotechnology for Dental Implants

In dental surgery, implants are commonly used for restoring teeth. It is important that the implant remains stable in position for the procedure to be successful. Using nanotechnology, the implant surface may be modified so that it integrates with the gum tissue and remains fixed. For example, coatings of bioactive calcium phosphate nanocrystals can be applied to the dental implant.

Nanotechnology for Orthopedic Implants

Orthopedic limb implants have helped patients regain their independence. However, in some cases, the implant surgery fails, often due to insufficient tissue growth around the implant. Nanomaterials have been found to support tissue and bone growth, and reduce chances of infection and scar tissue formation, thereby probably increasing the chances of implant success. Nanophase ceramics, particularly nano-hydroxyapatite, are popular as bone substitutes, coatings and other filler materials since they promote the functions of bone-forming cells called osteoblasts.

Nanotechnology for Ocular Implants

Nanodevices have been used in the eye for the local delivery of drugs. They are made of polymeric or biological materials. They remain in the eye for a long time and usually cause a minimal reaction. Nanodevices may also be useful in diagnosis of diseases of the retina, including tumors.

With its rapid progress, nanotechnology has been found useful in several incurable diseases. However, further research is needed to address issues that currently limit its usefulness.

Nanotechnology for Ocular Implants

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