Diagnosis and treatment will now use Nano-time. How nanotechnology has tremendously improved methods of onsite diagnostic and drug-delivery methods. The old world of medicines is now revolutionized or should I say, nanonized.
Scientists and Engineers have from time immemorial tried to follow the perfection of nature in their works. Biological systems and processes have always intrigued and inspired man. In the recent years, there has been a growing interest in biomimetic methods to build bio-hybrid systems and bio-mimetic materials for drug delivery, drug testing and tissue engineering devices. Now Nanotechnology has enabled manipulation and control at molecular scale to mimic biological systems. This has led to an bloom in the biomimetic world leading to production of nano-structured tissue scaffolds and biomaterials for tissue repair and construction, bionanopores for probing, analyzing and sequencing of biological macromolecules, self-assembled novel biomaterials with molecular precision.
An interesting theme is the design and development of micro and nanofabricated devices, like self-assembled drug delivery devices that aim to combine diagnostic and therapeutic actions for real-time analysis of targets and instantaneous administration of therapy. The recent advances of biotechnology and related areas have resulted in the discovery and design of several novel drugs and therapeutics. But most of the drugs still have limited action due to their pure solubility, nonspecific delivery, in vivo degradation, non-adaptability and unacceptability by body. Thus, effective targeted drug-delivery systems are essential for on-site administration of these new advances into clinical effectiveness. Additionally, they will increase patient compliance, extend product life cycle, offer strategic tool to repackage classic drugs and reduce healthcare costs.
This will have great implications in treating diseases like cancer where time is of prime importance. Several detailed research has been done in developing and studying the drug delivery of nanoparticles (NPs) in cancerous tissues by passive targeting, e.g. Doxil which acts by the enhanced permeability and retention (EPR) effect on ovarian cancer, metastatic breast cancer and AIDS-related Kaposi’s sarcoma; DOC (sodium deoxycholate)-heparin NPs for in vivo tumor targeting and inhibition of angiogenesis using EPR effect; tumor-targetting of cisplatin-loaded glycol chitosan NPs; localized delivery of transferrin (Tf) conjugated paclitaxel (Tx)-loaded biodegradable NPs to treat local cancers like prostrate, head and neck cancers; etc. and active targeting, e.g. PEGylated gold NPs decorated with various amounts of human Tf showed enhanced targeting, PLGA NPs surface-modified with monoclonal antibodies showed active targeting of cancer cells, aptamer (oligonucleotides that selectively binds to targets with high affinity and specifity)-coated paclitaxel-polylactide nanoconjugates having enhanced targeting to cancer cells,etc.
The speed and precision with which a cancer is detected and treated has momentous implications. Consequently, the designing of point-of-care(POC) diagnostic devices, e.g. micro total analysis systems (µ-TAS) that enable diagnostic testing at the site of care and the immediate targeted supply of nanofabricated drugs at the site will substantially abbreviate analysis time and drug action time and decrease gap time between them, leading to exceptionally effective treatment. There is a long way to go before these dreams are realized, but hardcore research is the key to it.
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