What is Nanomedicine

Nanomedicine represents the nexus of medicine and technology. For those interested in pursuing a career in the medical field that integrates a high level of technology and computer science, this may be precisely the specialization for you. But it’s more than simply the study of technology as it relates to surgical and therapeutic processes. It also encompasses the human element of medicine. In the article below, we’ll explore what this field does and what potential it holds for the future of medical care.

Biotechnology and Medicine

While the general field of nanotechnology heavily influenced the creation of therapeutic substances and devices that act on the body at the sub-cellular level, the two fields should not be conflated. Nanomedicine is not limited to machinery or computing technologies on such a scale. Rather, it has one of several general foci—nanoparticles designed to deliver specific medicines to a restricted region of the body, such as a tumor, or particles that can penetrate previously impermeable barriers, like the blood-brain barrier.

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Many of these particles are designed not from non-biodegradable materials, as you might see in nanomachinery, but from materials that break down naturally in the body. One excellent example of the latter is currently being developed to treat age-related macular degeneration. Medication is sealed within a nanoparticle, which is injected into the eye of the patient. Over time, that medicine is released. Once it is exhausted, the particle delivery system breaks down into elements that occur naturally within the body.

Perhaps the most fascinating aspect of this technology is that it utilizes the human body’s capability of filtering substances from various tissues and removing them. Once, this was a barrier to therapeutic medication, requiring persistent doses and repetitive oversight by medical personnel in order to maintain adequate levels of the medication within the body. The patient also risked overexposure to the medicine administered. Now, the medication is delivered directly to the affected site, is protected by the nanocapsule, and, when it has completed its mission, the capsule dissolves and is flushed from the patient’s body through natural processes.

Refining the Scope of Treatment

Since the Enlightenment, the field of practical Western medicine—which includes surgical and therapeutic subfields—has been in a constant state of refinement. Nanoparticles are playing a huge role in the latest leap forward, especially in terms of how we administer medicine for treatment. Until quite recently, the standard wisdom was one that subjected all systems of the body to a treatment meant for something specific, such as cancer.

This general application of medicine proved somewhat less than satisfactory because it meant that only a fraction of the medication reached the area or mass to be treated. In the case of traditional chemotherapy, it also entailed substantial damage to the healthy tissues of the patient—immune, epithelial, follicular, and other vital cell tissues were often deeply impacted. However, with nanotechnologies designed specifically to direct medication to the area of focus, the patient can be treated more quickly, with a higher rate of success, and a good deal less suffering.

The astounding rate of progress and innovation in the field of general nanotechnology means that, as researchers and physicians continue to explore potential applications, new treatments will become available. Nanomedicine may be the key to eliminating many of the most deadly conditions facing the human species, because it offers physicians a way to circumvent traditional therapeutic barriers.