Nanotechnology In Biomedical Applications Biology Essay


Science and technology at the nanoscale is capable of providing unprecedented understanding, control and manipulation of matter at the atomic and molecular level. Nanotechnology has by now emerged into one of this century's most important enabling technologies and has permeated all walks of our life. During the last few years, nanotechnology has made many advances especially in the biomedical area. The concepts, devices used, applications, impacts and further research information are discussed here with what had nanobiotechnology came so far and what will be coming up in the future. There are certain basic concept being used as a foundation for bio-medical application in nanotechnology and certain scientific approaches are identified, in the growth in this field. The descriptions of the devices that are being used currently are summarized down as well. The applications of nanotechnology in bio-medical field in the current real world are divided into three major branches. They are, diagnostic techniques, drug delivery, tissue engineering. With these progresses in nanotechnology, we are open to certain impacts to ourselves and to number of areas which may be a advantage or disadvantage.

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2.0 Introduction

Nanotechnology is a new area of science that deals with sizes and tolerances of 0.1 to 100nm that can produce and study by controlling over the size range. As for Biotechnology it is defined as technology of using living things (biology, medicine, food science and agriculture) to create a product. Combination of Nanotechnology and Biotechnology creates "Nanobiotechnology" which is the concerned with molecular scale properties and applications of biological nanostructures that interface between chemical, biological and physical sciences. Nanobiotechnology can be applied in different fields such as chemistry and environment, energy, information and communication, consumer goods, heavy industry and also medicine.

Our research will be more focusing on medicine aspect which is Biomedical Applications in Nanotechnology. It can be divided into three applications that are diagnostic techniques, delivery drugs and prostheses and implants (Tissue Engineering). There are variety of concepts and devices of new technologies nowadays to support the application of Nanotechnology in Biomedical such as for example lab on chip techniques, sunscreens with ultraviolet light absorbing nanoparticles, sensors for medical and environmental monitoring and more to come in the future.

The main objective of developing and improving nanotechnology in medical field is to improve the quality of life and environment in the years to come as well to develop a product which more on prevention, diagnosis and therapy. Even though this technology has become synonymous to innovation, there are also challenges which we have to overcome related to long term stability, economics and environment effects.

In the years to come, this technology might lead to a new perception in medical history to produce an application which a device can communicate with our body systems to detect and recover from a serious illness such as cancer, sickle-cell anemia, diabetes, cystic fibrosis and many more.

3.0 Concepts of Nanotechnology in Biomedical Applications

The basic concept behind the idea of nanotechnology in the field of biomedicine is to break down organisms from the macro level to the micro level. The micro level would explain how organisms such as viruses, bacteria, or our tissues or cells work together to form a functional system called the human body. Once this is achieved, nanotechnology is aimed to go further ourselves and to understand the intricate workings of the human body in its nanoscale. This method, although seemed impossible years ago, is fast developing in the world of today.

Problems faced in the field of biomedicine are the absence of sufficient knowledge and sufficient equipment to tackle diseases at the nanoscale. Now that we have gained information about the human cell, understanding the working of the cancer cell or the characteristics of viruses and bacteria now seem easier. Based on this knowledge, we are able to develop techniques that would help diagnose infectious diseases and cancer thus, contributing to the early detection of these diseases. Detecting these tyrants at its early stages allows us to provide a cure for it before it grows.

Next, one of the biggest areas of interest of nanotechnologist in the field of biomedicine is drug delivery. Getting a drug to work exactly the way you want it to or getting it to reach the precise location intended has been a challenge for scientist for centuries. With these challenges at hand, scientists have developed nanoscale materials that work as drug-delivery vehicles. For example, a drug that was designed for the foot would first have to journey through the digestive system, stay compacted as it's absorbed into the bloodstream and then unleash its substances once it reaches the foot. Controlled drug-delivery strategies have made a direct impact in medicine.

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The concept behind tissue engineering is the idea that impaired or damages tissues can be replaced by nanosubtances that have been engineered to work and behave like the tissues around the area. These tissues are modeled to restore, maintain and enhance tissue function. Rather than building tissues using conventional methods, nanotechnologists have introduced new methods where cells are developed based on its characteristics and the intended microenvironment.

4.0 Devices of Nanotechnology in Biomedical Applications

Nanoparticles are made from a vast range of materials such as metals, metal oxides (titanium dioxide, silicon dioxide) or inorganic materials (carbon nanotubes, quantum dots).Nanotubes, nanopores, nanoshells nanocrystals, nanowires and quantum dots opened up a world of possibilities in the field of biomedicine with its efficiency. Nanopores analyses the human DNA one strand at a time. If the nanopore detects unusual developments in the DNA, it then analyzes the strand for traces of cancer. With this technology, we may even be able to detect cancer years before it becomes harmful to the body. Mutations in the DNA that could indicate other infectious diseases could also be detected, providing chances of early detection and prevention. Nanotubes too are used for similar purposes. Nanotubes are able to mark mutations in the DNA or the presence of altered genes. Once the tip of the nanotube detects changes, it creates a map showing the shape of the DNA molecule, including the tags identifying important mutations. The analysis of DNA too can be done through quantum dots.

Quantum dots too have made its mark in the diagnosis and detection of diseases. They work by binding together cells that are associated with a certain type of disease. Once lighted, the sequences of DNA become apparent and easily detectable by an average device. Nanoshells too have made its mark as a therapeutic device. It is designed to accept certain frequencies of light. The infra-red is the most common frequency used for stimulating nanoshells. Once the frequency is absorbed, intense heat that is lethal to the cells around it is emitted. Nanoshells have proven to be effective and have drastically reduces the chances of harming healthy cells as we destroy cancerous ones.

Dendrimers are manmade molecules about the size of an average protein. They have a branching shape that enables that enables them as excellent therapeutic agents with their vast amount of surface area. A single dendrimer can carry a molecule that recognizes cancer cells, a therapeutic agent to kill those cells, and a molecule that recognizes the signals of cell death. A single dendrimer can carry a molecule that recognizes cancer cells, a therapeutic agent to kill those cells, and a molecule that recognizes the signals of cell death.

5.0 Applications of Nanotechnology in Biomedical

5.1 Diagnostic techniques

A major contribution of nanotechnology in biomedical field is the diagnostic techniques. Nanoparticles which are typically 13-20 nanometers (nm) in diameter (approximately one ten-thousandth (1/10,000) of the width of a human hair) is used widely by researchers in developing diagnostic techniques. Many companies and agencies are developing diagnostics techniques using nanotechnology, such as Nanosphere Inc. One of their product is Verigene System where DNA examples are tested using nanoparticles for identification purposes. Apart from this, this system is also able to detect diseases. This system makes molecular diagnostic testing simple, accessible, and flexible, but provides the high sensitivity, accuracy, and rapid multiplex target detection required by the increasing demand. In United States, the army developed biosensors to identify infections in biowarfare applications especially during the Iraq wars. During this war, the American Army wore clothing equipped with biosensors to sense whether they have been infected with Anthrax. The sensor was also used to detect other bacteria that affect the army. Nanotechnology helps to minimize the detection time, provide precise results with high accuracy and consistency. Many researches are going on in the field of commercial applications, such as: a) sensors for environmental, medical and pharmaceutical surveys; b) strong lightweight materials for defence, aerospace and automotive applications; c) lab-on-a-chip diagnostic techniques; d) sunscreens with nano-particles that absorb ultraviolet-light; e) longer-lasting medical implants; and f) techniques for mapping in a short time an individual's entire genetic code.

5.2 Drugs Delivery

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One application of nanotechnology in biomedical field that is currently being developed is 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 curing of diseases. For example, cancer cells are healed by nanoparticles that are delivered through chemotherapy drugs. Apart from this, BioDelivery Sciences Inc. are developing a nanoparticle called cochleate. This nanoparticle is used with drugs for treating systemic fungal diseases. In addition, research is going on to replace shots with oral administration of drugs. The drugs would be encapsulated in a nanoparticle which helps it pass through the stomach to deliver the drug into the bloodstream. A new kind of drug is also developed using nanoparticles, focusing on the property called allosterism. These drugs attach to biological molecules at binding sites distinct from those usually targeted by medications. Instead of activating or inhibiting the bound molecules, as classic drugs do, allosteric types can act more like dimmer switches and might, at time cause minor side effects. Such agents may be able to treat disorders that lack drug therapies today. Drugs that are on early trial and research are for chronic kidney failure, Alzheimer's disease, Gastroesphageal Reflux disease, HIV, Parkinson's disease and many more. Nevertheless, pharmaceutical scientists and researchers are confident that allosterism has far reaching promise for future of drug development through the development of nanotechnology. The advantages of nanotechnology in drugs delivery is where: a) therapeutic and diagnostic agents can be encapsulated, attached or absorbed onto nanocarriers (overcome drug solubility issues); b) can be targeted to specific cells and locations within body (small size and using synthetic polymers and appropriate ligands); c)increase effectiveness and decrease side effects; d) can be engineered to be activated by changes in pH, chemical stimuli or other changes in the body.

5.3 Prostheses and implants

Nanotechnology has already had a significant impact on modern medicine through the development of novel targeted therapies, diagnostic and imaging techniques. The tremendous advances in biomedical nanotechnology during the past few decades have significantly impacted the area of tissue engineering also, opening up new avenues to realize the dream of regenerative medicine.

The loss or failure of an organ or tissue is one of the most frequent, devastating, and costly problems in health care. Due to that tissue engineering was born. Moreover, as medicine continued to advance and the survivability of major disorders and injuries increased, so did the number of patients receiving and awaiting these critical treatments, and the need for alternative therapies became clearly apparent. Besides that, supply of donor organs cannot keep up with the man. So, tissue engineering became a major goal in nanobiotechnology. Tissue engineering referred to the use of human cells to restore, maintain and repair human tissue. This may involve skin, muscle, bone tissue, or regeneration of the entire organ such as heart, kidney, and liver. So, need a heart or liver?

Us defense department is funding research into broad range of tissue engineering for wounded soldiers from bone, muscle and skin to vital organs including the heart. Tissue engineering could save a lot of lives, but just about how research going on doing this. First they get some cells from the patients themselves or donors. Cells may have some memory of what they are suppose to do, but they also need structure, nutrient and oxygen. Structure comes from scaffold, they come in many sizes. The scaffold gives the cells a structure on which to grow. Without a scaffold the cells are free floating. They cannot connect with each other, communicate and form tissue. With a scaffold they have a structure that they need for a certain period of time until they form enough tissue to have their own structure. Then the scaffold dissolves, as they are 3D biodegradable scaffolds. In future, we could imagine a world where medical nanodevices are routinely implanted or even injected into the bloodstream to monitor wellness and to automatically participate in the repair of systems that deviate from established norms.

6.0 Impacts of Nanotechnology in Biomedical Applications

Why is the potential impact of biomedical applications in nanotechnology so important to consider? Nanotechnology applications seem to be a new vision in terms of improving quality of life and enhancing better systems, devices and products. Some of the recently developed nanoproducts may have beneficial impacts and also not to forget, unintended consequences.With the application of nanotechnology in biomedicine, real time monitoring of the body's systems will be possible. This allows early detection of undesired effects allowing a more aggressive and experimental approach to treatment in comparison to the process of trial and error method back in the days. Thus, better treatment plans with faster results provides an avenue for better health care altogether.

People will be more accessible to medicine as better methods are used. This is because problems like toxic, insoluble or unstable medicines will not be a barrier for treatment any longer with the help of nanotechnology. Medicine can be produce in huge quantities because of the size and price so that in can be applied in daily basis diagnosis. Scientists predict that nanotechnology in biomedicine will make its mark in medical history. We can apply this technology on a variety of applications such as the detection of new diseases years before symptoms appear, the extinction of harmful therapeutic techniques used today and the creation of better medicine.

Nanotechnology's application can be applied in environmental monitoring, remediation, pollution prevention, and resource saving. As for example "polish dumpling" can be used to sense the environmental changes in pH. On the other side of it could produced ecotoxicological impacts which can be harm for our environment. To properly assess the health hazards of engineered nanoparticles the whole life cycle of these particles needs to be evaluated, including their fabrication, storage and distribution, application and potential abuse, and disposal. The impact on humans or the environment may vary at different stages of the life cycle. As the nanomedicine industry continues to grow, it is expected to have a significant impact on the economy. Nanotechnology may well drive economic prosperity or at the least be an enabling factor in shaping productivity and global competitiveness.

7.0 The other side of Nanotechnology in Biomedical Applications

Nanotechnology itself is a large today. Therefore since September 11, this effort has received even greater attention. R&D has been focused on using nanotechnology for chemical, biological, radioactive, explosive, detection and protection. The development of a portable device to monitor the movement of specific molecules in the human body is likely to be materialized in the next 10 years or soon. In today's world, numerous government organizations and multinational companies are now willing to invest a huge amount for developing this technology. Nanotechnology may become an essential large-systems strategic competency that will shape the sustainability and wealth of nations, organizations and entire industries in the future.

The future of research in this field seems to be bright. The invention of "smart nanoparticles" which are nanoparticles are used to sequentially deliver drugs to cancer cells so that each drug is delivered at the proper time to induce cell death as well as to prevent angiogenesis. The manufacturing of quantum dots between 3 and 5 nm too are used for binding specific biomolecules which opens up possibilities of new manmade compounds. Next is the development of "Nanorobots" .It it is able to sense target cells, a power source, an actuator for performing a task, and in some cases, a communications capability to enable it to transmit its findings and receive commands from outside the body yet several researchers are working on moving them into the real world.

However, the question on people's minds are, where do we stop? Are we playing God? Can we start cloning people, plants and animals based on the research done on nanotechnology? Studies have already shown that carbon nanotubes could be as harmful as asbestos if inhaled in sufficient quantities. Workers in a paint factory developed serious lung disease and nanoparticles were found in their lungs. The Impacts of technology can be severe if not considered thoroughly. Nanotechnology could be the new generation technology, or the disaster of the new generation. This decision lies in our very hands.

8.0 Conclusion

Nanotechnology in biomedicine is a rather new field. At the same time there are challenges throughout the nations to be putting these applications into experimenting and reality. Nanobiotechnology could dramatically improve public health in terms of time, effective cost and also size.

Medical nanotechnology is entering industrial production, mainly for diagnostics, drugs, and therapeutics with various methods such as using tissue engineering, drug delivery and diagnosis. Tomorrow, nanotechnology may help improve implants and bless blind people with sight, paralyzed people walk, offer cancer patients a cure within a month or maybe a week and many other possible diseases. We envision a future where people can self-diagnose their own ailments with the help of nanorobot monitors in their bloodstream. Simple everyday illnesses can be cured without ever visiting the physician.

Although nanomedical products will probably enter the environment, their fate and effects are not well understood with respect to fundamental issues, such as bioavailability, bioaccumulation, toxicity, environmental transformation and interactions with other environmental contaminates, as well as the applicability of current environmental fate and transport models to nanomaterials

The government should play an important role to make this vision become reality by funding biomedical so that scientists and developers of nanomedicine, as well as environmental chemists, ecotoxicologists and regulators have to come together and start addressing these issues in a truly interdisciplinary fashion to ensure that the right questions are being asked and addressed. Priority should be given to the society and also environment so that it will be balanced on both sides with the use of nanotechnology in biomedical applications.