Nanotechnology is a steadily growing technology that has effective use in the filed of manufacturing, engineering, medicine, treatment and therapy, and agriculture and food production.
The technology manipulates matter in the subatomic level. Scientific researches revealed that nanoparticles behave differently that can be beneficial for the health of humans and animals. Manipulating atoms in the nanoscale results to exciting outcomes which cannot be done in their natural state. Nano-medical tools and instruments facilitate study and observation of the functioning and metabolism of minute living cells such as proteins and hormones (Shrivastava & Dash, 2009). Nano-instruments are able to measure the light emitted by molecules in cells, thus, enabling precise measurement of the path these molecules follow (Shrivastava & Dash, 2009).
Such knowledge can contribute to the development of new medical approaches in the treatment and prevention of diseases. The delivery systems are used in targeted treatment of diseased cells in humans, as well as in the monitoring, sensing, and imaging procedures (Shrivastava & Dash, 2009). Nanoparticles that attach themselves to tumor cells can be heated to a particular temperature enough to destroy the cells (Shrivastava & Dash, 2009). The technology has also allowed fine coating of implant materials in nanometer instead of micrometer that makes the implants last longer than the usual ten to fifteen years (Shrivastava & Dash, 2009). Nanometer hydroxyapatite coating makes the implant similar to the hydroxyapatite found in the bone (which is 70 percent hydroxyapatite mineral and 30 percent organic fibers). This facilitates bonding and growth of tissues surrounding the implant, and can forego with the use of bone cement (Shrivastava & Dash, 2009).
Active implants have two subgroups, drug administration and neural prostheses. The first one delivers medicines at specific periods and varying amounts (Shrivastava & Dash, 2009). The second group can repair a nerve, function as a nerve, or replace the senses (Shrivastava & Dash, 2009). In relation to animal health, nanotechnology has provided a means to detect and attack the cause before totally infecting the animal. Quantum dots injected into the animal bloodstream can seek out defective cells and destroy them once light is shone to the body (Scott, 2005). Nano-devices implanted into animals can regularly sample saliva and detect presence of virus and other disease-causing organisms even before symptoms of the disease manifest (Scott, 2005). Smart delivery of drug allows targeted treatment of a diseased area, which can also be programmed, controlled at a distance, and manipulated at intervals (spatially or periodically) (Scott, 2005).
Smart delivery approach can also monitor other parameters such as pharmaceutical and nutrient intake, food supplements, etc. (Scott, 2005). Many particles in the nanoscale have unpredictable behaviors (Quick, 2009). Researches conducted by the Center for Environmental Sciences and Engineering, University of Connecticut showed that nanoparticles of silver (used to counter germ proliferation) could eliminate the capacity of the immune system to fight pathogens (Quick, 2009). Nanoparticles of Titanium dioxide, which are common ingredients in cosmetics for their sunblocking effect, have been found by University of California, Los Angeles in mice experiment to have caused damage in the genes (Quick, 2009).
The body cannot remove these particles which can accumulate in the cells and organs in the body. Nanoparticles are very small and can be released into the environment uncontrollably. In depth research should be conducted on the elements and their potential effect and harm to humans and animals. Without proactive study and regulation, living organisms may be unnecessarily exposed to unexpected danger.
Quick, D. (2009, December 14). The downside of nanotech: do tiny particles spell big trouble? Retrieved 25 January 2011, from http://www.gizmag.com/are-nanoparticles-dangerous/13594/ Scott, N.R. (2005). Nanotechnology and animal health.
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, 24(1), 425-432. Retrieved 25 January 2011, from http://www.oie.int/boutique/extrait/36scott425432.pdf Shrivastava, S.
& Dash, D. (2009). Applying nanotechnology to human health: revolution in biomedical sciences. Journal of Nanotechnology, 2009. Article ID 184702, doi:10.1155/2009/184702.
Retrieved 25 January 2011, from http://www.hindawi.com/journals/jnt/2009/184702.html