At the end of the 1960s the nanotechnology emerged as a new scientific area of study. It is a set of techniques that are used to manipulate matter at the level of atoms and molecules. In order to understand how it is changing the way that healthcare is practiced it is important to understand how such products produce what is known as quantum effect.
Richard Feynman exposed in a very visionary way the advantages that could be obtained by working at a nanometric scale. However, such benefits became evident only twenty years later with the emergence of new manufacturing techniques that allowed understanding and controlling the physical and chemical properties of nanomaterials.
Nanotechnology techniques oriented to produce therapeutic advances
Devices produced with nanotechnology propose a restructuring in terms of healthcare changing the way we perceive disease nowadays. It has been predicted that, in the future, the progress of medical science will allow it to detect illnesses even in healthy individuals before they manifest themselves in the body.
On the other hand, this kind of technology also proposes a revolutionary improvement in terms of therapeutic applications. When atoms are manipulated in the process of synthesizing matter it is possible to create a new structure with different chemical and physical properties. This situation has given place to the possibility of creating new medicines.
For instance, a product such as aspirin has notably increased its therapeutic activity and decreased its undesirable effects. Prestigious scientists are also working on the development of tablets for the analysis of a specific fragment of DNA which can be applied on laboratory tests. Another example of application of this technology is a controversial proposal that emerged in the United Kingdom. Such scheme consists on unifying the DNA of three people to create an embryo in order to avoid mitochondrial diseases.
Mitochondria play a fundamental role since it is responsible for providing the cell the necessary energy to work properly. Such components have their own DNA which in certain circumstances may be responsible for dissimilar diseases in the individual like epilepsy or mental disorders. The goal is to prevent or heal such illnesses by introducing organic constituents of a healthy person.
Revolutionary solutions for diverse health problems
Perhaps the most revolutionary feature of this kind of technology would be the storage and release of drugs on demand by means of the so-called pharmacy-on-a-chip. The idea is to provide the patient a medicine that releases a certain dose periodically in order to maintain stable levels of active principles on the bloodstream.
The artificial micropancreas is one of the most advanced devices produced with the resources of the mentioned technology. It has been built by Tejal Desai at the Univeristy of Illinois. This tool is basically a miniature bioreactor that allows the use of healthy b human cells which are able to release an adequate dose of insulin periodically.
A group of scientists of the MIT designed nanoparticles that release drugs that aim to attack tumors. Such devices are activated when they are exposed to the influence of an electromagnetic field. Other active molecules are linked to them like therapeutic compounds that are released when their temperature is increased.