Nanotechnology: A Look at the Medical Industry
Mallory McGuinness | February 26, 2021
Nanotechnology in the Medical Field
Nanotechnology is used in a number of new and exciting ways every day. With the medical field often at the forefront of innovation, it’s no surprise that the use of nanotechnology in medicine offers some of the most exciting and revolutionary advancements available today. While some of these advancements are still just a dream for future implementation, others are used now. From the use of nanoparticles in cell studies, to the use of nano-robots to make tiny repairs inside the human body, nanotechnology is being utilized in all aspects of the medical field to improve the health and lives of millions of people all over the world.
Using Nanotechnology to Fight Bacteria
One of the first applications of nanotechnology in medicine was the use of nanocrystalline silver to help fight off bacteria in wound dressings. Silver was used in the 1800s as an antimicrobial, but since then has gained popularity once again for its success in wound treatment. Another use of nanotechnology in wound treatment can be found in the use of nanoparticle creams. These creams contain nitric oxide gasses and are known to kill bacteria and significantly reduce infection. One futuristic use of nanotechnology, a nano-robot that would digest and dispose of microbiological pathogens found in the human bloodstream, is still in the theoretical stages. This is a great example of one of the many ways scientists are using the possibilities of nanotechnology to make advancements for the future.
Using Nanotechnology in Cancer Treatment
Several studies have shown that the use of nanotechnology drastically improves the effectiveness of cancer treatments. With the use of something called a “nanoshell,” cancer treatments more effectively target malignant cells only, leaving healthy cells untouched.
Another method of cancer treatment utilizing nanotechnology that is currently being developed is used to fight skin cancer. This method packs gold nanoparticles with RNA molecules inside of special topical ointments. The nanoparticles in the ointment penetrate the skin when applied and the RNA attaches to any cancer-related genes found in the skin, stopping the genes continued growth.
Using Nanotechnology in Everything- From Fighting Colds to Saving Trauma Patients
Aside from fighting cancer and major bacterial infections, nanotechnology is being experimented with and used in a number of other medical areas as well. At Montana State University, a team of scientists is looking into using nanotechnology to fight the common cold. By inhaling an aerosol-type spray, nanotechnology could possibly be utilized to activate heightened immune responses within the lungs, helpings ward of colds, flus and other common bugs. Another team of researchers from Virginia Commonwealth University is researching a type of nanoparticle that could potentially help block inflammation from allergens, the sixth leading cause of chronic disease in the United States. Nanotechnology is also being used inside emergency rooms to help control bleeding. Certain companies, like Z-Medica, produce a special kind of gauze containing nanoparticles used to quickly absorb water, causing the blood in a wound to clot much more quickly than it normally would.
Nanotechnology in the Future
Considering many of the nanotechnology applications we are using and developing today sound more like something straight out of a science fiction movie from 20 years ago, it’s impossible to say what we could achieve in another 20 years. The possibilities are nearly limitless. What we do know is nanotechnology has been, and is continually used in new ways to improve our lives and the lives of future generations.
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