This lesson plan was created to help first year college science teachers provide an introduction to the applications of nanotechnology in medicine (nanomedicine) in a classroom setting, making use of the information provided on this Web site.
Provide this definition to your students: Nanomedicine -The use of nanotechnology to diagnose, treat, and prevent disease.
Ask the students: Can you think of applications in the area of healthcare that would benefit from the ability to control things at the nano level? Answers might include medical imaging, surgery, or more targeted delivery of drugs.
Reading 1: Now have students read the Nanotechnology in Medicine page (www.understandingnano.com/medicine.html).
Essay: Write a brief report about either of these topics relating to the basic concepts of nanotechnology in medicine:
Discussion 1: Targeted drug delivery is one very promising area for the use of nanotechnology. One aspect of targeted drug delivery is that it can decrease or get rid of side effects to treatments such as chemotherapy. Have students discuss some common side effects of treatments they or others have had for conditions such as a cold or allergy. Would they prefer to use a cold treatment that didn't make them drowsy or dizzy, or anti-inflammatory medications that wouldn't harm their stomach if taken without food? If someone had a more serious condition, what could it mean to them to get rid of drug delivery side effects?
Reading 2: Have students pick one of the medical application pages on the UnderstandingNano Web site (www.understandingnano.com/medical.html) to read. If they wish they can also explore pages on Cancer Treatments, Heart Disease, Life Extension and Nanorobots. Have them research the FDA procedure for getting approval for new drugs, and then put together a visual timeline for that procedure. Identify where on that timeline some of the drugs discussed on the site are.
Nanotechnology holds the promise of eradicating several major diseases such as cancer and heart disease. What could this mean to our world?
Discussion 2: Pick one of these topics:
You can hold a discussion with the entire class, or break up into smaller groups with some groups researching these topics and others preparing a presentation.
Optional Activity: Have students contact a company or lab identified on this site as working to eradicate a disease. Ask how close they are to eradicating the disease, and what implications they see if humans are no longer victims of it.
Wrap up the lesson by pointing out that nanotechnology in medicine offers great potential for improving our lives, and that, as with any scientific breakthrough, it may have both good and unforeseen consequences.
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