Nanotechnology is defined as the engineering of functional systems at the molecular scale. In lay terms, nanotechnology is the molecular level processing and development of devices to carryout biological functions in a simpler way. In medicine, nanotechnology is being used in the drug development process and research that involves the use of manufactured nano-robots to make repairs at the cellular level (Nano-medicine).
Nano-medicine has incredible potential for revolutionizing the therapeutics and diagnostics under the premise of developing ingenious nanodevices. Drug delivery nanosystems constitute a significant portion of nanomedicine. In nano drug delivery systems, the efficiency and availability of the drug are not based on the size of the nanoparticle. The drug delivery systems range from nano sized particles to micro particles in the range of 100 μm. Both nano- and micro scale systems have been extremely important in developing various clinically useful drug delivery systems.
Drug delivery system is one of the major areas where nanotechnology has been used to target a drug to the specific cells, tissues or organs. These nanoparticles are engineered in such a way that the drug is incorporated and they are targeted to the specific types of cells (such as cancer cells). This technique reduces damage to healthy cells in the body and allows for earlier detection of the disease. For example, nanoparticles that deliver chemotherapy drugs directly to cancer cells are under development. Tests are in progress for targeted delivery of chemotherapy drugs and their final approval for their use with cancer patients is pending.
Nanoparticles are used as drug reservoirs in targeted drug delivery systems. They are attached with ethylene glycol which prevents the white blood cells from recognizing the nanoparticles as foreign bodies after releasing them into the human body and assists nano particles in targeting the tumour tissues. This is at research level and the scientists are in continuous development of more effective methods to target nanoparticles that carry the therapeutic agent directly to the diseased cells.
The current drug delivery systems are useful to deliver a certain amount of drug that is therapeutically effective over an extended period of time. There is need to develop delivery systems that deliver the complete drug to show the therapeutic effect that increases the bioavailability of the drug. Such requirements can be met by the micro scale drug delivery systems manufactured by nanotechnology. In addition, little attention has been paid to the fact that the systems have to be introduced into the human body, requiring approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Nanotechnology has many applications in therapy techniques, Diagnostic and Imaging techniques, anti-microbial techniques, cell repair using manufactured nano-robots, etc.