Advancement into scientific research has led to the emergence of new technologies that has the potential to improve drug delivery and effectiveness. With evolution, things are becoming miniature in size, be it electronic chips, medical devices, or pharmaceutical drug. However, miniaturization, also referred as nanotechnology, doesn’t compromise on the product quality and effectiveness. Instead there is improved quality and features delivered via this technology.
Nanotechnology has a real potential to revolutionize the medical treatment procedures, and tools making it more personalized, effective, safe and cheaper. Nanotechnology involves research of molecules that only 1/100th size of cancer cells but has the potential to improve the quality of life. Significant progress has already been made in nanomaterial in terms of developing targeted drug therapies. Some of the developments in nanotechnology include Quantum dots that can enhance biological imaging for medical diagnostics, antibody-nanoparticle complex for early diagnosis of atherosclerosis, use of nanoscale components in molecular imaging, and regeneration or spurring the growth of nerve cells.
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The Virus ‘trap’ Nanoparticle
One of the recent progresses made in nanotechnology is the technique of combating viruses before they can infect the host cells. Researchers at Charles Stark Draper Laboratory, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the Univ. of Massachusetts Medical School, and the Univ. of Santa Barbara have developed nanoparticles that act as viral ‘traps’ inside the human body. These molecules are surfaced with numerous carbohydrate molecules that closely resemble those targeted by flu viruses. The flu viruses bind to these nanotraps instead of host cell and are eliminated from the body through mucus.
The nanoscale viral trap molecule technology can also be applicable in diagnosing a viral disease. An innovative tunable device selectively traps viruses detecting them with 100 times better sensitivity than the current available techniques. Researchers at the Pennsylvania State University developed this tool that can trap virus and remove majority of the host contaminants.
The Technology is Under Research
The nanoparticle molecule is composed of compounds found naturally in the human body. Hence, it is safe as an inhalant, intravenous treatment, or topical solution, and inexpensive to manufacture. Extensive benefits of this technology imply a very high commercial potential in the treatment of viral infections. Moreover, this technology has shown to be effective in mice. Further research in this may lead to use it against HIV virus, Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV), and Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV), as well as bacteria and toxins. With increasing resistance to anti-viral drugs, need for novel therapies are realized. This will further help boost the demand for nanoscale virus trap molecules in the treatment of viral diseases.
However, there are more alternate therapies under research which can compete with the viral trap molecule business. Double-stranded RNA Activated Caspase Oligomerizer (DRACO) is a nanoparticle based drug under research which is designed to detect virally infected cells and eradicate only those cells from the body. Few in-vivo and in-vitro trials have proven this drug to be very effective against different viral strains. The researchers at Charles Stark Draper Laboratory believe that this drug will be ready for clinical trials in next three to eight years.
The viral trap molecule is poised to make contributions far beyond the therapies and tools that have been explored so far. Adequate funding to this research will continue to drive the efforts in commercializing this technology.
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