As science and technology evolve, there are promises of some exciting breakthroughs in cancer treatments. One of the most innovative treatments that have the greatest potential for success is nanotechnology. The studies have shown great promise that this treatment may eliminate many types of malignant tumors and can destroy them causing very little damage to the healthy surrounding tissue. It is believed that nanotechnology might also be used to detect early cancerous cells, which will allow the patient to be treated before tumors have formed.
There are various ways in which nanotechnology might be used in the treatment of cancer. Scientists are currently creating gold nanoparticles which are hidden from the immune system, allowing them to pass through the blood stream without being destroyed. This allows them to carry a tumor-killing form of chemotherapy, called tumor necrosis factor alpha. Potentially, this offers more targeted and, therefore, more effective elimination of tumors.
Another technique uses gold nanorods, which bind to a chemotherapy agent using strands of DNA. These nanorods create heat under infra red light, which offers more aggressive destruction of tumors in addition to releasing the chemotherapy drugs.
Nanotechnology could also be developed to seek out a protein which is present in many malignant tumors. This would allow the polymer nanoparticles to deliver higher doses of docetaxel to affected tissue.
Scientists have already shown that nanotechnology could also be used to stop the spread of cancer to other areas of the body. Researchers disguised gold nanoparticles as HDL, (a type of cholesterol). When these nanoparticles attached themselves to lymphoma cells it prevented them from bonding with real HDL, thereby starving the cancerous cells and stopping them spreading.
When using radiation for cancer treatments, this technology could be used to greatly enhance effectiveness. Bismuth nanoparticles increase the concentration levels of the radiation. Early research indicates the level of radiation delivered to the tumor is increased by up to ninety percent, and there is minimal damage caused to the surrounding organs.
Skin cancer rates are rising and there are several ongoing studies concerning the use of nanotechnology to treat malignant melanoma. Gold nanoparticles are bonded with RNA molecules, and applied to the skin in a topical treatment. The nanoparticles are able to penetrate the skin, bringing the RNA molecules into contact with a gene that has been identified in the development of cancer. This can prevent the gene from releasing proteins associated with the growth of cancerous tumors.
Breast cancer treatment is another well researched area. Scientists are attempting to destroy tumors by attaching antibodies to nanotubes. The antibodies latch onto a protein found in the most common type of breast cancer. These cells can then be destroyed by the application of infra red light.
Although science is still a long way from eliminating cancer completely, there is good reason to be optimistic. Technology and understanding of the disease is advancing rapidly. Researchers believe that in ten years from now, cancers will be far more easily treated.