The emerging technology of nanobots in medicine offers better chances of exploiting nanomedicine to fight chronic diseases such as cancer.
Nanomedicine is a domain of medicine that utilises the knowledge of nanotechnology to prevent and treat severe diseases such as cancer and heart diseases. Recent advances in nanotechnology have enabled doctors to use nanoscale materials, including biocompatible nanoparticles and nanobots in medicine, to sense the actuation purposes in a living organism. Moreover, further developments in the nanomedicine market can create opportunities such as the development of artificial antibodies and artificial RBCs and WBCs
Nanomedicine is a domain of medicine that utilises the knowledge of nanotechnology to prevent and treat severe diseases such as cancer and heart diseases. Recent advances in nanotechnology have enabled doctors to use nanoscale materials, including biocompatible nanoparticles and nanobots, to sense the actuation purposes in a living organism.
In addition, researchers now use nanomedicines to boost immunotherapy. In recent years, ample innovations have emerged from the field of nanomedicine, which has boosted the nanomedicine market. According to Allied Market Research, the nanomedicine market was valued at $111.91bn (~€95.39bn) in 2016, and is expected to reach $261.06bn by the end of 2023, registering a CAGR of 12.6% in the period of 2017–2023.
The treatment of cancer using nanomedicines with the help of quantum dots
From improving the quality of solar panels to treating cancer, quantum dots are widely used in various sectors. However, creating quantum dots is an extremely expensive process which generates a huge amount of waste. However, scientists have recently developed a low-cost method to synthesise quantum dots using some chemicals and green leaf extracts.
A team of scientists at Wales’ Swansea University developed an economical and environment-friendly way to produce quantum dots from Camellia sinensis leaf extract.
This innovative method makes the procedure economical and the byproducts are non-toxic. The research proved that the quantum dots created with tea leaves can penetrate the skin and reduce the growth of cancer cells by about 80%.
However, while this study does not provide the ultimate cure for cancer, the major issues with the production of quantum dots such as high cost and toxic byproducts are solved. In addition, in-depth research can present new possibilities in treating different diseases and developing more advanced technology.
Scientists have also created ‘fucoidan’-based magnetic nanomedicines that can offer effective treatment for cancer.
Fusing nanoparticle-based immunotherapy and nanomedicines, and the emergence of nanobots
Taiwan’s National Chiao Tung University (NCTU) and the China Medical University have successfully developed an innovative way to cure cancer by combining nanomedicines with immunotherapy. The research, titled ‘Combination of fucoidan-based magnetic nanoparticles and immunomodulators enhances tumor-localized immunotherapy’ is published in the renowned journal Nature Nanotechnology.
This study is seen as a significant breakthrough to boost tumour treatment.
Immunotherapy can cause severe side-effects including stomach sickness and skin blistering as sometimes healthy cells get attacked by the immune system. Therefore, researchers combined fucoidan-based magnetic nanomedicine with immunotherapy. The results proved that such combination successfully contains the cancer cells while boosting the growth of healthy cells, which in turn reduces the side-effects and increases the efficiency of treatment.
Nanomedicine’s most important breakthrough can be regarded as nanobots. Nanobots serve as miniature surgeons which can be used to repair damaged cells or entirely replace intracellular structures. Moreover, they can replicate themselves to correct a genetic deficiency or replace DNA molecule to eradicate disease. Scientists claim that a fleet of nanobots can serve as antibodies or antiviral agents to treat patients with an impaired immune system. Investigating nanobots in medicine can create lucrative opportunities in healthcare such as unblocking arteries or completely replacing an organ.
Nanobots: the emerging era in nanomedicine
Conventional water-soluble drugs can create difficulties in treatment, such as failed absorption in the diseased areas. However, nanomedicine applications such as diagnostic nanomachines provide the ability to monitor the internal chemistry of the body’s organs, providing direct access to diseased areas. Moreover, technology such as nanobots can be equipped with wireless transmitters, and this offers doctors opportunities to change the treatment method if a patient’s medical condition gets worse. Nanobots in medicine could also be planted into a patient’s nervous system to monitor pulse and brainwave activities.
According to scientists, nanobots can completely replace pacemakers by treating the heart’s cell directly. Research regarding nanobots in medicine offer several opportunities such as artificial antibodies, artificial white blood cells (WBCs) and red blood cells (RBCs), and antiviral nanobots. The major advantage that nanobots provide is that they are extremely durable. Theoretically, they can operate for years without any damage owing to their miniature size, which reduces mechanical damage.
The advantages of nanobots and nanomedicines are enormous. Therefore, several leading companies are investing in research and development in this area. Not long ago, Vancouver-based company Precision NanoSystems closed a $6m project to fund a nanomedicine manufacturing platform, NanoAssemblr. The company is recognised for its research into the genetic basis of diseases and the development of nanoparticles for drugs.
The CEO and co-founder of Precision NanoSystems said: “NanoAssemblr technology will offer a solution for the discovery, development, and manufacture of nanomedicine. This additional funding will enable us to develop new products at lower costs and grow customer base.”
Such strategic collaboration on the part of leading companies has boosted the growth of the nanomedicine market.
This article will appear in issue 7 of Health Europa Quarterly, which will be published in November 2018.