Nanotechnology in the Fight Against Skin Cancer

Eileen Bailey Health Guide
  • Great things can come in small packages – and this is certainly true in the fight against skin cancer. One company is working on creating a nanotechnology product which would help strengthen sunscreen and anti-aging cosmetics. Other advances in nanotechnology, although still in the research phase, include the use of nanoparticles to deliver targeted chemotherapy.


    Nanotechnology is the use of incredibly small particles in different science applications, including medicine.   It is “the ability to see and control individual atoms and molecules.” [1] But exactly how small is a nanometer?  There are 1 billion nanometers in a meter, or, if you would prefer to use a smaller scale – there are 25,400,000 nanometers in an inch. Special microscopes are needed to see atoms and molecules at a nanoscale and up until about 30 years ago, there weren’t any microscopes able to do so. Now that scientists have the ability to see nanoparticles, they are learning how to use this technology to benefit us is many ways.

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    ProTransit Nanotherapy, L.L.C. is working on nanotechnology that can “deliver a powerful blend of protective antioxidants in topical formulations to protect skin from the sun’s UV radiation.” [2] This would “strengthen things like sunscreen and anti-aging cosmetics.” [3] The company hopes to have the products, which it considers non-toxic and biodegradable, ready within the next 18 months. Once these products are successful, the technology may be able to be carry a wide range of proteins, enzymes and genetic materials that could be customized to deliver targeted treatments for those with cancer and other diseases.


    A number of companie are also working on nanotechnology to use in targeted chemotherapy. These are still in the research phase but show promise. The nanoparticles are infused with medications and then can attack the tumor and deliver the medication directly to the tumor. One uses a combination of medication and heat to destroy cancer cells.


    Another way nanoparticles are being used to treat cancer cells include a nanoparticle with a radioactive core that attaches to lymphoma tumor cells and stops the cancer from spreading to other areas in the body. Scientists have also discovered a way to use nanoparticles to “starve” a cancer cell, hopefully stopping its growth.


    While many of these technologies are still a ways from being used on a daily basis to help cancer patients, there is a large nationwide push to make these technologies part of our health care. The Alliance for Nanotechnology in Cancer helps researchers to collaborate efforts and resolve some of the major challenges of working with nanoparticles. But there is much promise. According to UnderstandingNano.com, “It is possible that these efforts will result in cancer becoming nearly eliminated in a decade or so, in the same way that vaccines nearly eliminated smallpox in the last century.” [4]


    References:


    [4] “Nanotechnology in Cancer Treatment,” Date Unknown, Staff Writer, UnderstandingNano.com


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    [2] [3] “UNMC Nanotechonology Protects Skin From Cancer and Early Wrinkles,” 2013, July 10, Staff Writer, Medical News Today


    [1] “What is Nanotechnology?” Date Unknown, Staff Writer, National Nanotechnology Initiative, Nano.gov



Published On: July 23, 2013