A look at the emerging roles of nanotechnology in the rapidly evolving domain of modern/future radiation therapy. In an effort to devise novel and more effective anticancer regimes, a rapidly growing community of researchers is applying the unique properties of nanomaterials to combat the unmet challenges posed by classical radiation therapy - which has become one of the most effective and frequently applied cancer therapies. However, despite a plethora of preclinical studies, nanoparticle mediated combination RT/phototherapy has not yet been translated in the clinic.
Dendrimers have emerged as a powerful class of nanomaterials in nanomedicine due to their unique structural features: globular, well-defined, highly branched and controllable nanostructures where the presence of several terminal groups can be functionalized with different ligands simulating the multivalency present in different biological systems. A recent review article identifies the currently existing dendritic systems and discusses their strengths and caveats in the context of attaining efficient therapeutic strategies for the treatment of neurological disorders.
Nanotechnology is becoming a crucial driving force behind innovation in medicine and healthcare, with a range of advances including nanoscale therapeutics, biosensors, implantable devices, drug delivery systems, and imaging technologies. This article provides a comprehensive overview of healthcare advances that may be possible through nanotechnology, ranging from fitness monitoring, prevention, diagnosis to therapy, and everything in between.
Inspired by octopus arms, researchers demonstrate an uncomplicated and scalable templating technology for fabricating nanosuckers on PDMS substrates, using a scalable spin-coating technology. As the nanosuckers are pressed against a substrate, the flexible nanosuckers confirm to the substrate and deform by releasing the internal air between nanosuckers and the substrate, forming a seal and generating an adhesion force. The nanosucker adhesion is maintained over multiple contact cycles on both wet and dry surfaces.
Several research projects are working on reinventing the contact lens as a smart electronic device that, for instance, works as a self-powered biosensor for various point-of-care monitoring and wireless biomedical sensing. n addition to sensors, researchers are devising numerous applications for smart contact lenses, ranging from drug delivery systems to protection from electromagnetic wave damage. An application closer to contact lenses' original function, graphene can change the focal length of a polymeric soft contact lens in order to adjust near- and farsightedness.
Growing neurons outside the brain but with predictable synaptic connectivity between other neurons could provide for an efficient platform for fundamental research and design of neuroprosthetics. Various neuromorphic engineering research efforts are underway to do this. A team now has built a Brain-on-a-chip where they demonstrated guided growth of neurons on semiconductor nanowire scaffolds. Providing an environment were scientists could study a less complex neuronal circuit as opposed to a fully functioning circuit in a living mammalian brain will open up a new experimental paradigm of understanding how the neurons are influenced by the mechanical properties of the brain as they grow and form circuits.
Immunotherapy has become an important part of treating some types of cancer. It uses certain parts of a person's immune system to fight the cancer. Usually this is done by administering immune system components, such as man-made immune system proteins. In recent years, nanotechnology has played an increasingly important role in pursuing efficient vaccine delivery in cancer immunotherapy. This article discusses vaccine delivery by synthetic nanoparticles or naturally derived nanoparticles for cancer immunotherapy.
Researchers show how spermatozoa can be useful parts of microdevices: As biocompatible propulsion source, but also entailing other functionalities such as their natural destiny for fertilization, their ability to respond to stimuli, or their ability to take up drugs open up fascinating new applications. They demonstrate first examples of using sperm cells as robotic components. The so-called spermbots are also systems that enable biophysical studies, e.g. of sperm motion in confinement.