The tools provided by nanotechnology are increasing the range of possibilities in terms of therapeutic solutions that can be applied in the treatment of various diseases including cancer. On the other hand this scientific approach tries to provide revolutionary diagnostic techniques. In this way, the physician will be able to detect the presence of malignant cells right on time in order to provide the patient a preventive treatment.
Ground-breaking systems oriented to predict cancer tumors
New systems of image analysis are being developed in order to detect diseases like cancer in the earliest possible stages. The use of nanoparticles as contrast agents for in vivo studies has led to a considerable improvement on the localization of small tumors.
Physical properties of nanomaterials make them excellent candidates for the development of innovative systems that allow the detection of specific chemical and biological substances. They can execute such task with great precision and in a very short period of time. It can provide remarkable advantages to current conventional diagnostic techniques that are very laborious and involve long analysis periods.
Therefore, nanotechnology will be able to simplify analysis processes so diseases like cancer can be detected and even prevented before they can emerge. However, it is worth to mention that most of the mentioned techniques are still on a pilot phase.
Radical treatments provided by an innovative technology
Probably, one of the most spread applications on the medical field is the use of nanoparticles responsible of controlled release of drugs. The encapsulation of certain compounds in this kind of systems has proven to be useful to improve stability, solubility and bio-distribution of such elements inside the organism. In some cases, the medicine can be directed to a target organ that needs the treatment the most.
This technology is allowing the creation of more effective drugs reducing the possibility of side effects by means of an adequate dosage. In this way it is possible to improve the quality of life of the patient especially in cases of cancer. This type of approach is already a reality since polymer particles and liposomes are already being used in clinical applications.
Another approach that is still under development but with promising results is the use of nanomaterial as a therapeutic agent. This kind of technique is being applied in experimental cancer treatments by means of the introduction of magnetic or gold nanoparticles. Such devices are heated by the influence of an external magnetic field or through exposure to laser rays attaching cancer cells.
Due to the increased sensitivity of tumor cells to high temperatures, this method combined with conventional chemotherapy is providing optimal results in the treatment of certain types of cancer. Although this technology is progressing quite fast, there is still a lot of work that has to be done so these approaches can transform the field of medicine.
Scientists are studying the possibility of increasing the production of these nanomaterials to optimal levels for their application. Properties of these devices such as their reproducibility, regulatory aspects and possible adverse effects are still being assessed. For that reason, many research groups are collecting information that can be used in order to take advantage of the potential provided by such technology.