Current applications of nanotechnology in medicine involve the use of nanoparticles to deliver drugs, heat, light, or other substances to specific types of cells, such as cancer cells. The particles are designed to be attracted to diseased cells so that they can be treated directly. This technology can reduce damage to healthy cells in the body and detect diseases early. Many of these technologies are introduced below for the application of nanomedicine in drug delivery.
The chemotherapy that has been used to treat cancer for many years can cause serious damage to the human body. Alfa Chemistry is conducting research on the application of nanoparticles in chemotherapy. For example, the use of nanoparticles can destroy cancer tumors with minimal damage to healthy tissues without serious side effects. We provide a survey of nanotechnology that is being developed to improve chemotherapy.
- The researchers attached a kind of tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF) and thiol-derived polyethylene glycol (PEG-THIOL) to gold nanoparticles to construct a new type of nano-drug CYT-6091, which will bring Nanoparticles with TNF hide from the immune system.
- Researchers are using silicon nanoneedles to develop a wearable patch that can deliver chemotherapy drugs to the skin to treat melanoma.
- Researchers use dendrimer nanoparticles to deliver tumor-inhibiting nucleic acids to liver cancer tumors, which can reduce tumor growth in mice.
- Researchers are also testing the use of chemotherapy drugs attached to nanodiamonds to treat leukemia. Cancer cells cannot pump out nanodiamonds, and attaching drug molecules to nanodiamonds will cause the drugs to stay longer in the cancer cells.
- Researchers are joining different DNA strands together to form a structure called "nano strands'' that can effectively deliver chemotherapy drugs to cancer cells. By using different DNA strands, they can customize the types of cancer cells targeted by the nano-strands.
Figure.1 Electron micrographs from a patient with inoperable ductal carcinoma of the breast. Black dots in the tumor micrograph are CYT-6091. (Libutti S. K, et al. 2010)
Helping Cancer Radiotherapy
The use of nanoparticles can destroy cancer tumors with minimal damage to healthy tissues, without the serious side effects usually caused by radiotherapy. Alfa Chemistry provides an investigation into nanotechnology-based technologies that are being developed to improve radiotherapy.
- Researchers are studying the use of bismuth nanoparticles to concentrate radiation used in the treatment of cancer tumors in radiotherapy. Preliminary results indicate that bismuth nanoparticles can increase the radiation dose of tumors by 90%.
- Researchers are developing a nanoparticle containing actinium, which is a radioactive element that emits alpha particles.
- One way to make radiation therapy more effective in combating prostate cancer is to use radioactive gold nanoparticles to attach to molecules attracted to prostate tumor cells, which can treat tumors with minimal damage to healthy tissue.
Helping Cancer Hyperthermia
The use of nanoparticles in cancer hyperthermia is called nanoparticle hyperthermia, which involves applying heat to tumors to attack cancer cells. This type of treatment can destroy cancer tumors with minimal harm to the human body. We provide a survey of nanoparticle-based methods that are being developed to improve cancer hyperthermia.
Figure.2 Schematic of magnetic hyperthermia therapy. (Moradiya M. K, et al. 2010)
- Heating cancer tumors using iron oxide nanoparticles and magnetic fields has been shown to stimulate the immune system to fight cancer cells in other parts of the body. This method may help prevent the spread of cancer cells, while other techniques are used to fight local tumors.
- Researchers are using gold nanorods that connect DNA strands. The DNA strand acts as a scaffold, holding the nanorods and chemotherapy drugs together. When infrared rays irradiate cancer tumors, gold nanorods absorb infrared rays and convert them into heat.
- Researchers are using a photosensitizer to enhance the ability of drug-loaded nanoparticles to enter tumors. They allowed the photosensitizer to accumulate in the tumor, and then irradiated the tumor with infrared light. The photosensitizer makes the blood vessels in the tumor more porous, so more drug-loaded nanoparticles can enter the tumor.
Helping Gene/Stem Cell Therapy
In gene therapy, the function of the defective gene will be replaced by a functional variant of the gene. With the help of special vectors, integrated or non-integrated exogenous genetic material is introduced into cells to influence gene expression in organisms. Smart NPs are often used in gene therapy, which can protect the loaded DNA or RNA from being degraded during their journey and deliver genetic material to the target.
The iron oxide core NP coated by the cationic polymer polyethyleneimine (PEI) is positively charged and easily binds to the negatively charged DNA. The bioreducible cationic polymer is biodegraded inside the cell. PEI contains disulfide bonds. When NP enters the cell, the bond is cleaved by glutathione, resulting in the release of genetic material.
Helping Tissue Engineering
Nanomaterials can be designed to replace diseased and damaged tissues. Nanomaterials support tissue repair and regeneration, increase the durability and longevity of the implant, and minimize possible side effects and risk of rejection.
- Multi-walled carbon nanotubes were developed to repair tendons and ligaments.
- The extracellular material is replaced by a hydrogel, thereby enhancing cell proliferation and blood vessel formation.
- Coating nano-materials on metal implants can minimize debris degradation and promote an inflammatory response that prolongs the life expectancy of the implant.
- Nanomaterials can also be loaded with antibacterial drugs to prevent postoperative infections.
- Libutti S. K, et al. (2010). “Phase I and Pharmacokinetic Studies of CYT-6091, A Novel PEGylated Colloidal Gold-rhTNF Anomedicine.” Clin Cancer Res. 16(24): 6139-6149.
- Moradiya M. A, et al. (2019). “New Way to Treat Cancer: Magnetic Nanoparticle based Hyperthermia.” J Chem Sci Eng. 2(1): 58-60.