Nanotechnology covers the manipulation of matter, at molecular and atomic levels, with a goal of creating macroscale products. Nanotechnology has been applied in the different areas of medical diagnosis, controlling, treatment and for monitoring of biological systems: this use of nanotechnology is called nanomedicine. Nanotechnology is applied for targeting and delivery for therapeutic, pharmaceutical and diagnostic agents such as medicine. The process takes place after identification of the targeted biological system (receptors and cells) which is expected to be connected to a certain clinical condition. The appropriate nanocarriers are used to realise the responses while minimising other effects, which are called side effects. Currently, the practices covered in nanomedicine are expanding the drug market and are leading to the formation of a new line in the medicine industry. This report will discuss present and potential future of nanomedicine, covering different areas such as medical imaging and delivery, targeting the body system and nanopore sequencing.
Nanosized Technologies in Targeted Drug Delivery and Medical Imaging
Nanoparticles with Inherent Diagnostic Traits
Nanotechnology is aimed at the process of manipulating molecules and atoms, which leads to the development of structures on a nanometer scale (being normally 100 nm or less and retaining unique characteristics). The chemical and physical properties of the materials used change or improve when their particle sizes are scaled down. Examples of the particles used are ironoxide crystals, colloidal gold, and quantum dots semiconductor crystals. The sizes of these particles are at the levels of 1–20 nm (Moghimi, Hunter and Murray, 2005). Gold nanoparticles are used as quenchers during studies involving fluorescent resonance transfer of energy. One example is the case of evaluating the combining process for DNA-combined particles of gold to the complementary RNA agent. Ironoxide crystals which have superparamagnetic traits work as contrast agents for MRI imaging (magnetic resonance imaging) because they change the spin-spin relaxation pattern of surrounding water molecules, which helps in the detection of cancers, arthritis, inflammations or atherosclerotic plaques and in monitoring gene expression (Bhushan, 2007). Quantum dots (QDs) are used for labelling of biological systems, which helps in detecting electrically/optically in vivo or vitro.
Nanovehicles and Drug Carriers
There are different engineering models, architectures, assemblies, and particulate structures that play a unifying role on a nanometer scale (up to 250 nm). These models include dendrimers, polymeric micelles, ceramic and polymeric nanoparticles and protein cage architectures. Initially, the diagnostic or therapeutic agents are absorbed or covalently bound to the nanocarriers. The process helps in overcoming issues related to drug solubility. For example, dendrimers which have sizes of 5–10 nm help in solubilisation of drugs that do not dissolve in water. The small size of particles offers a wide surface area allowing for drug release to be faster. Through the functional role of the surfaces with synthetic fitting ligands and polymers, noncarriers can be targeted at the target locations or cells of the body, after subcutaneous and intravenous injection (Krämer et al., 2004).
The behaviour of nanoparticles is not the same; they depict behavioural variations when in the biological environment, at levels of stability and in cellular and extracellular distribution, which relies on morphology, chemical composition and size. These different aspects are explored with reference to subcutaneous and intravenous channels of injection.
Clearance Approaches and Targeting Opportunities
Lymphatic and blood vessel networks are natural channels for nutrient distribution, waste removal and the delivery of therapeutic materials. Superficially, this network does not seem to offer specific and controlled access to tissues. Irrespective of these limitations, nanoparticulate approaches increase the ways of reaching body compartments and cells. When administered intravenously, particles are cleared from the circulatory system in a speedy manner, mainly by the liver and the spleen. On the other hand, nanoparticles are cleared by the kupffer cells faster than other smaller particles from the blood. For example, QDs and dendrimers are widely known to flocculate when placed in biological media. For instance, surface modification or polydentate phosphine coating using different hydrophilic polymers makes QDs soluble, stable in serum and capable of dispersing (Moghimi, Hunter and Murray, 2005).
Macrophage As Target
The tendency of macrophages of the reticulendothelial system for recognising and clearing particulate matter fast offers a rational approach to macrophage-specific targeting, using nanocarriers. The manipulating of macrophage immune effectors and clearance functionalities lead to many disorders such as autoimmunity, atherosclerosis and major infections. The macrophage, therefore, is the specific target for pharmaceuticals and there are different opportunities for a macrophage-targeted outlook. For example, despite the fact that many microorganisms are killed by macrophages, many pathogenic agents formulate means of resisting the destruction caused by the macrophages, after phagocytosis. In given situations, the cytoplasm or the macrophage lysosome is the important intracellular home of different microorganisms including toxoplasma gondii, some species of mycobacterium TB, Leishmania and Listeria monocytogenes (Veerareddy and Vobalabonia, 2004). Therefore, the passive targeting of nanoparticulate carriers, which are combined with antimicrobial compounds to macrophages that are infected, will offer a logical process of killing microbes in an effective manner.
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