7.3.1 Nanotechnology Impact
Nanomedicine has the potential to improve many medical areas, including cancer, heart disease, and stroke. However, all these options are not fully exploited yet. Some specific areas within biomedicine where nanotechnology is especially promising include:
- Imaging: New techniques for imaging open up whole new vistas for seeing the vascular system in unparalleled detail, as well as offering greater resolution of cancerous tumors. Nanomaterials that bind to specific types of cells, such as those from prostate or breast cancer, would allow doctors to identify even the smallest clusters of cancer cells that have spread to other parts of the body.
- Sensing and diagnostics: The technology offers new ways to detect organisms such as bacteria, viruses, or antibodies; it might be used, for example, to detect any of dozens of types of bacteria, nearly instantly, in a patient.
- Drug delivery: Nanomedicine extends the trend toward rational drug design, making it possible to develop even more targeted drug delivery systems designed against very specific molecules or types of molecular machinery. The more specific the target, the less the risk of unwanted side effects in, for example, a patient who has had a hip replacement, or a patient fighting an auto-immune disorder like multiple sclerosis. Nanotechnology has already given thousands of women with breast cancer a new treatment option, allowing doctors to use a compound that previously was considered too toxic for most patients.
However, also surgical tools like nanocrystalline diamond scalpels can offer several new and better options in comparison with traditional solutions. In this context, biocompatible nanocrystalline materials for dental fillers and bone substitution materials can also offer new and more effective solutions. The possible applications of nanotechnology for nanomedicine are numerous. At the end of the day price restrictions, regulations and effectiveness in comparison with conventional solutions will decide over the market penetration for nanotechnology related products for medical applications.
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