This lesson was created to give you an introduction to the applications of nanotechnology in medicine (nanomedicine).
Definition: Nanomedicine is use of nanotechnology to diagnose, treat, and prevent disease.
Question: Can you think of applications in the area of healthcare that would benefit from the ability to control things at the nano level?
Reading 1: 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. Discuss with your fellow students some common side effects of treatments for conditions such as a cold or allergy. Would people 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: Pick one of the medical application pages on the UnderstandingNano Web site (www.understandingnano.com/medical.html) to read. If you wish you can also explore pages on Cancer Treatments, Heart Disease, Life Extension and Nanorobots. 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: Discuss one of these topics with your class or group.
Optional Activity: 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.
Conclusion: The use of 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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