Nanotechnology to Fight Cancer

It’s arguably the most horrible disease known to man, and even though it’s been around for ages, we’re yet to find a cure for this deadly illness we know as cancer. It’s a poison that kills you slowly, and with a great deal of both physical and emotional pain and suffering, but that’s not the worst part – what’s really unbearable is that you know you’re definitely going to die, and suffer through the process. But if there’s one spark of hope for cancer and those who’re being affected by the disease, it’s the one being generated by the field of nanotechnology.

The problem with current methods of treatment of cancer is that they destroy healthy cells as well when they destroy the cancerous ones. And this causes you to suffer side effects and other adverse consequences. Nanotechnology comes to the rescue in such situations by targeting only the cancerous cells using tiny particles that are used to inject the cancer-killing medicine exactly where they’re needed and nowhere else. This form of targeted therapy is now being used not only to deliver medication but also to turn off the proteins that are associated with and contribute to the growth of cancerous cells.

The process is called RNA interference, and was proven to work during a study conducted by the California Institute of Technology on patients with melanoma, a form of skin cancer. The nanoparticles, which are 70 nanometers across and hence smaller than most viruses, are injected directly into the patients’ bloodstream. The number of nanoparticles that enter the tumor cells depends on the number you inject into the bloodstream – the more you send, the more cancer-causing cells you kill.

Another advantage of using nanotechnology in the treatment of cancer is that you can pack a variety of materials into one single nanoparticle – so not only is it possible to target the tumor accurately, it also holds future possibilities as an imaging agent to facilitate the observation of a tumor as it progresses through therapy.

Nanotechnology holds much promise in the treatment and prevention of cancer, and even though it has been proven to work effectively in animals for over a decade, it is only now that visible and encouraging results are being seen in human beings.

Posted on 18 January '11 by , under Uncategorized.