Nanotechnology seems to evade every possible scientific discipline, and medicine is certainly not an exception. Several attempts are being made everyday to efficiently treat and find a cure for cancer and several promising approaches are made to fulfill this purpose. Nanoparticles are one such approach.
A common way to control cancer is to suppress proliferation or kill cancer cells. Atomic oxygen is highly reactive and toxic and can cause cancer cell death. But there is a very high possibility that the body’s own cells could be destroyed. So a special dye is used to deliver the atomic oxygen. The dye has a high intake by cancer cells rather than
healthy tissue. The dye delivers atomic oxygen only when it is irradiated by a special laser beam. Thus the dye is taken in by cancer cells and upon application of laser radiation the dye generates atomic oxygen which is cytotoxic, resulting in cancer cell destruction. This kind of therapy is called photodynamic cancer therapy.
However the remaining dye molecules have potential side effects such as sensitivity to sunlight. This condition is caused due to the migration of dye molecules to the skin and eyes. This is where nanotechnology comes in. The dye is modified to be hydrophobic and is delivered encapsulated inside an organically modified silica nanoparticle called Ormosil. Since this nanoparticle contains pores the oxygen releasing ability is not disrupted and trapping the dye inside the nanoparticle prevents it from migrating to other parts of the body.
Many more applications of nanoparticles in medicine exist and are ever emerging.
Source : Journal of Nanobiotechnology