Popularized in recent years, the term nanotechnology refers to systems and materials that have properties which are unfamiliar and novel in chemical, physical and biological sciences because of their nanoscale size. In this paper nanomedicine will be addressed, with reference to applications for nanotechnology in modern medicine, and will take into account the uses and the resulting advantages and disadvantages in general, as well as discussing how to bridge some existing gaps in this technology in the future.
Nanoscience has many uses in industry, but there are also uses of a promising nature in the medical field. Many countries support nanotechnology; for example, the United States began five-year plans for nanotechnology in 2005 and spends nearly $4 billion annually on nanotechnology research. Furthermore, there are approximately 130 projects that are medically interested in nanotechnology, according to statistics issued in 2006(KSU 2010).
Each term prefixed with "nano" such as nanotechnology, nanomedicine, nanoscience and so on, concerns research and applications on the Nanoscale(Virdi 2008). The advancement of technology is ongoing in all aspects of science, which has led to a major development in health care and medical technology resulting from the achievements reached by scientists in nanotechnology. Nanotechnology is the science which studies the phenomena and the manipulation of matter at the atomic, molecular, and supramolecular level, where the particle characteristics are clearly different from its counterpart in the bigger scale. In addition, nanotechnology refers to the production; characterization; design; and application of structures, devices and systems that have novel chemical, biological and physical properties, by controlling the shape and size at the nanometre scale. We can consider that the term nanotechnology comprises the various branches of science that are delicate and sensitive, as well as nanotechnology at the same time(Ebbesen and Jensen 2006). Over the last few years, research has progressed rapidly in the area of nanotechnology to become a basic discipline of science that is multi-disciplinary, in engineering, medicine, chemistry, biology and physics. This technology has become commonly referred to in the various fields of science. A significant increase in funding is required over the next decade in order for this technology to produce better health care, along with a greater understanding of its nature and to increase production and expand the boundaries of human capacity(Roco 2003).
Nanomedicine is the application of nanotechnology to health care, and it depends on three progressively more powerful molecular technologies: devices and nanoscale-structured materials, proteomics, artificially engineered microorganisms and genomics, and molecular machine systems(Jain 2008). The advent of nanotechnology is predicted to ensure a bright future in medicine(Monmaney 1986). All materials vary significantly on the nanoscale. In general, the scale of 1 to 100 nm is the scale of nanotechnology, where one nanometer equals one billion per meter (Keiper 2003). We can classify nanomedicine into several areas: biopharmaceutics, implementable materials, implementable devices, surgical aids, diagnostic tools and understanding basic life process(Chiesa, Garcia-Remesal et al. 2008).
FDA and nanomedicine:
The organization responsible for the safety and effectiveness of most food products as well as human and animal medicines and medical devices and products, radiation and transmission products, cosmetics and animal feed is the FDA. It operates under the administration of the Ministry of Health and Human Services, with a budget of 1.294 billion dollars and 9100 employees. The FDA can be divided into several branches: the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, Center for Drug and Evaluation and Research, Center for access to devices and radiological health, Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, with the two latter being responsible for regulating products that are medical(Miller 2003).
It is believed by many researchers and politicians that nanotechnology could lead to a new industrial revolution, although the developments in this science may take many years before that occurs(Crow and Sarewitz 2001). Recently, nanotechnology has been considered as a drive to create wealth. It became a profitable investment for many of the major industrialized countries which have encapsulated nanomedicine in science since the late 1990s, in both the public and private sectors, which amounts to billions of dollars(Virdi 2008).
Nanoparticles in diagnostics and therapy are used in many applications such as surfaces on implants, materials in smart devices, and scaffolds for cell and tissue engineering. The uses of nanotechnology in general in the medical field include: pharmaceuticals, medical imaging, diagnostic, treatment or repair of cellular damage, and some skin applications. The fact that nanoparticles can deliver drugs not only to the sick tissues, but also to the cells infected, with great accuracy, they serve to reduce the side effects of the drug because it deals directly with the diseased cells only; thereby reducing the side effects that may be received from entry to other areas that the drug was not intended to treat. Nanoparticles are also used in medical radiation to reach the places to be diagnosed accurately, and by being connected they make diagnostic imaging more pronounced. They may also be used in the treatment of cancer, by placing nanoparticles where cancer cells are stationed, and then heating by Radiofrequency certain frequencies which can kill cancer cells without harming normal cells nearby. This technique may prove its effectiveness and safety in the future and replace chemotherapy or radiation treatment which has many side effects. Nanotechnology may also be used in the diagnosis of certain diseases. It can be used in the process of welding after cutting the blood vessels without the usual need for sutures. There are also potential applications for nanomedicine in tissues engineering and to stimulate the proliferation or repair of some of the diseased tissue, which may in the future attract certain investors. Such futuristic science for researchers in the field of nanomedicine does not stop as they are anxious to develop technology to address blood clots through nanomedicine by a small (robot) being injected through the blood vessels to go and break the blockage of a blood clot without the need for surgery(KSU 2010).
The ability to transform medical treatment and diagnosis are the advantages of nanomedicine, and it is expected to greatly improve methods of drug delivery systems. Nanomedicine also has the ability to contribute to the development of microsurgery techniques, which can decrease trauma to the patient and help to cure. Moreover, cellular repair may be the solution of age-related diseases such as Alzheimer's and help to make it a thing of the past. Recently, nanomedicine products have reached and spread in global markets, and the demands have increased with annual growth rate reaching nearly twenty-five percent. Despite this development, and the many features of nanomedicine, like any new technology, the many moral, ethical and social issues which surround it may cause a reduction in the development of this technology. By studying the risks of this technology ,before research and development, to assess definitive results in this area, it is possible to bridge the gap that may exist in the use of nanomedicine tools(Virdi 2008).
Nanomedicine has become a commonly used term, and some articles are critical of nanomedicine and nanotechnology in general, due to it involving several risks- especially high toxic levels, whereas others hold the view that there is no clear risk and condone the use of nanotechnology in health care. Environmental groups contend that the nanoparticles are filled with danger and there should be significant stringent testing. Furthermore, some of them are calling for a complete cessation of the production of such materials as it must be taken into account that all new technology contains risks, and to obtain real benefits from nanotechnology, there must be a general perception that the risks are fully understood. That nanomaterials are the smallest components in nature which have the ability to move, and although the increased interaction is not a risk in itself, if it is proved that some of its characteristics are harmful to living organisms or the environment, there is a threat of real risk(nanowerk 2010).
There are objections to the use of nanotechnology in medicine for therapeutic interventions. Drug therapy usually involves loading the entire body with a huge number of molecules of drugs for treating a certain number of infected cells. We know that the lack of targeting inherent to systemic drug application could cause harmful side effects too. For example, when we kill tumors with anticancer, it affects the intestines causing nausea and vomiting, the immune system causing susceptibility to infection, the blood causing anemia and also the skin causing hair loss. There are a lot of side effects to using this technique for treatment which may occur unexpectedly, and it is not just about putting the patient in danger, but also may jeopardize the drug companies due to a variety of risks; as has happened recently with Bayer after a new drug killed several patients(Hunziker, Stolz et al. 2002).
We can attain atomic details not only for imaging single molecules in their native state, but also to investigate the technical characteristics and manipulation one after the other, by providing tools of medical nanotechnology. The technology developed for atomic force imaging will lead to miniature devices capable of work, such as local probes. These tools are evolving slowly, but they can fill the gaps between the tools of traditional medicine and the tools of a cellular or subcellular length scale(Hunziker, Stolz et al. 2002).
A lot of people over the past decade have promoted a precautionary principle when dealing with newly emerging technologies. However, this was often contrary to the principle of reality and thus the precautionary principle has become vulnerable to much criticism. Because it is vulnerable to arbitrary decisions, rather than helping people to participate in decision-making, it is biased towards the status quo, is an inflexible regulatory tool, and its application does not properly take into consideration the benefits of new technologies(Schummer and Pariotti 2008).
During the past few years, the function and the structure of a growing number of supramolecular and cellular nanomachines have been referred to, and the role of these techniques in disease progression has significantly increased. However, when the current medical tools for diagnosis and treatment are examined, a noticeable difference is found. The current tools of medicine are often designed for a different length scale: The diagnostic tools that rely on measuring the concentration of the bulk of a single molecule, or they take advantage of gadgets and structures that are typically at a millimeter or meter scale(Hunziker, Stolz et al. 2002).
In 2003, the Technology Administration in the Department of Commerce, headed by Phillip Bond, laid out a clear threefold charge to a conference: avoid offending the human condition, achieve the human potential of everybody and develop a strategy that will accelerate benefits(Cameron 2006).
There is great importance for trade tools, business tools and strategic steps to be implemented in the field of medical research, especially in nano-medicine; in order to achieve progress in the fields of science and health in general. The following are some ways in which to progress in the field of nanotechnologies: a tool for leveraging multiple resources (Collaboration) which would provide be a step forward in the progress of science and may yield high levels of efficiency in time and cost if planned carefully; a tool for fostering scientific progress (Pre-competitive research) to achieve the outcomes of knowledge or tangible materials that can be recognised as research tools in scientific enterprise; a tool for convenient access to intellectual property (Patent pooling) may be a way of stimulating innovation where the social and economic benefits of this outweighs the costs because of the re-emergence of patent pools; a tool for regulatory navigation (A nano web portal) which, regardless of the type of product or its uses, provides a key element in the efficient development of medical products with the presence of a transparent and predictable regulations, and finally a tool for early interaction with stakeholders (an exploratory voluntary nanotechnology data submission (e-VNDS)) as is the case with Pharmacogenomics(Sanhai, Spiegel et al. 2007).
Briefly, it can be said that nanomedicine and nanotechnology are clearly complex and delicate due to several reasons. However, it is important to tolerate some mistakes, and we need an integrated approach in developing this technology and its benefits because it has a promising future due to the many benefits and positive results for human health. Ethical and moral issues must be considered before any research or development of nanotechnology products is carried out, through the study of three major issues in nanomedicine: toxicity, nanodrugs and drug delivery systems; as well as clinical trials to make unequivocally sure about the results to guarantee the preservation of patient safety.
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