Next-Generation Nanomedicines

The application of nanotechnology in the medical field is called nanomedicine. Nanomedicine involves the use of nanoscale materials, such as biocompatible nanoparticles and nanorobots, for diagnosis, delivery, sensing or actuation purposes in a living organism. These can pass directly through the cellular membranes and interact with the cellular DNA and proteins, giving better desired results as compared to the traditional form of medicines. These nanomedicines are normally used across applications such as, diagnosis, targeted drug delivery and imaging.

The first generation of nanotechnology-based medicines, including nano-based drug delivery systems and nanovectors, improved the safe delivery of therapies that were once toxic. Nanoparticles have also proven to be especially good vehicles to effectively deliver cancer drugs, where many therapies are toxic in high doses, because they can minimize or negate potential off-target effects.

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Nanotechnology allows scientists to create, explore, and manipulate materials on a scale measured in nanometers — particles so small that they cannot be seen with a regular microscope. Nanomedicine is an offshoot of nanotechnology and refers to highly specific intervention at the molecular scale for curing diseases or repairing damaged tissues.

Taiwan’s National Chiao Tung University (NCTU) and the China Medical University have successfully developed an innovative way to cure cancer by combining nanomedicines with immunotherapy. The research, titled, “Combination of fucoidan-based magnetic nanoparticles and immune modulators enhances tumor-localized immunotherapy” is published in the renowned journal Nature Nanotechnology. This study is believed as a significant breakthrough to boost the tumor treatment. Immunotherapy can cause severe sideeffects including stomach sickness and skin blistering as sometimes healthy cells get attacked by the immune system.

The nanomedicine’s most important breakthrough can be regarded as nanobots. Nanobots serve as miniature surgeons, which can be used to repair damaged cells or entirely replace intracellular structures. Moreover, they can replicate themselves to correct the genetic deficiency or replace DNA molecule to eradicate the disease. Scientists claim that a fleet of nanobots can serve as antibodies or antiviral agents to treat patients with the impaired immune system.

The other prominent players in the value chain include Celgene Corporation, UCB (Union Chimique Belge) S.A., AMAG Pharmaceuticals, Nanospectra Biosciences, Inc., Arrowhead Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Leadiant Biosciences, Inc., Epeius Biotechnologies Corporation.