A nanoparticle, is a particle whose scale is in nanometers. This is incredibly small, and when things get so small, the behaviours and properties of certain materials change. Not a lot but it’s enough to allow us to make some amazing things with them.
In medicine, this technology has been used to create drug delivery systems. Sometimes nanoparticles can themselves be drugs. Nanoparticles can also be used to make antibacterial clothes.
AgNPs which are silver nanoparticles, can help diabetic people and increase insulin. Zinc oxide, (another nanoparticle) has been used for the same purpose with promising results.
As drug delivery systems, nanoparticles have had some challenges but they show a lot of promise. They have been used to deliver drugs in parts of the eye that other delivery methods fail to, and to overcome layers of mucous in the cervix to treat cervical cancer.
It is not only the size of the nanoparticles, making them able to flow through sticky surfaces and enter cells, nanoparticles have great chemical properties too. When you want to deliver a drug by using a nanoparticle, you basically put the drug inside that particle, making a box. This box can help if a drug is not accepted by the immune system.
Drugs some time are very hard to deliver especially when your target has to be very specific or if the drug induces some other unwanted response in the organism.
Another amazing feature of nanoparticles (for drug delivery) is that they can be designed to deliver the drug under a specific stimulus. For example, if nanoparticles are injected into a specific region, you can wait for a while, or insert some other drug and then release the drugs from the nanoparticles whenever you want by using light, ultrasound or magnetic fields.
So if we have a drug now we can use nanoparticles to pack it up and deliver it safely without triggering the immune system, to specific tissues and release it at the right moment.
It sounds so perfect. And indeed it is. But nanoparticles in all of those applications have been shown to cause some issues. Cytotoxicity is one of them, basically certain doses can be considered toxic and even induce some unforeseen effects, like heart damage and vasoconstriction.
Another disadvantage is that while we know how to make them for research, it is still very hard to mass produce them (economically).
But it appears that nanoparticles will be the future, all research shows promising results and the few side effects will be resolved. If not this technology will at least help with some drugs, at least one. It is surprising that there has not been more research on them. I was surprised that they were so effective. I have linked my sources if you want to read more. This was just an overview. Make sure to follow QulMind on facebook, twitter or share this post if you liked it.