Saturday, October 10, 2009

Nanomedicine Begins Changing the Face of Medicine

"Sir, you have glioblastoma multiforme, a brain cancer with a very poor prognosis. Normally your chance of survival would be very low..."


"Don't worry, we're sending in the robots*..."

Nanomedicine is the use of nano (meaning very very small) technology in health care. Nanomedicine is an exciting new field that will probably change management options for a wide array of diseases. Of course, I say this as an electrical engineering graduate, who worked at Microsoft, and is now in med my passion for the topic may not be representative of the general feeling in the medical community. However, I recently came across two articles that show how nanotechnology is truly moving medicine forward.

First, an article recently published in h+ discusses a recent study demonstrating nanotechnology fighting brain cancer. This nanotechnology seems to be far more effective than chemotherapy and radiation therapy, and safer than surgery, which are the current treatment options. Nanoparticles were used to target cancerous cells. Once they were bound to the cancerous cells, a light beam activated them and made them toxic, kill the attached cell. These nanoparticles can clear 80% of a brain tumour in 5 minutes!

Second, not only can nanotechnology fight existing cancer, but it is being used to detect cancers earlier than current technology allows. Detecting cancer early makes treatment more effective and reduces those cancer related complications we all hate, like death.

Nanotechnology has amazing potential to increase patients' quality of life and reduce their disease burdens. In an attempt to emulate Nostradamus, I predict that there will be a vast array of new developments within nanomedicine in the next 5 years and after that we will start seeing the use of nanotechnology as a common option in every physician's medical toolbox.

No comments: