Nanotechnology- A modern day Trojan horse for cancer treatment.

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Nanotechnology- A modern day Trojan
horse for cancer treatment.
By Sarah Armour and Zoe Raynsford
Hertfordshire and Essex High School
Recent research in nanotechnology
once at the cancerous area the nanoshell
has developed new ideas that could
will be heated with a special laser which
lead to the future cure for cancer.
will cause the shell to burst and the
Radiation therapy and chemotherapy
toxins will be released. The drug can be
are the usual treatments for cancer,
released in varied manners and speeds
but the each cause problems for the
depending on the patient. The nanoshell
body. Radiation damages skin, mouth,
reaches the cancerous cells through
throat and bowel cells, and can lead to
targeted delivery. Targeted drug delivery
fatigue, nausea, and permanent hair
ensures that the toxins only kills the
loss. On the other hand chemotherapy
cancerous cells but leaves healthy cells
can produce hearing loss and damage
to a number of organs, including the
Another way nanotechnology can help to
heart and kidneys. It is hoped that
prevent cancer is through the use of
nanotechnology can reduce the side
nanobots. Nanobots are microscopic
affects that the present treatment for
computerised robots that have
cancer produces.
Nanotechnology uses a process called
encapsulation to help carry drugs to kill
cancer. Nanoencapsulation typically
starts off with a nanoshell made up of
carbon atoms only a few nanometers in
diameter. See picture below. The toxins
(usually custom designed nanoparticles
specific for the patients needs) are then
injected into the carbon shell, which are
in turn injected into the blood stream and
components which are as small as one
nanometer in size. They can be
programmed to do different jobs around
the body, and one of them will be to
locate and destroy cancerous cells. There
will be different nanobots to do different
jobs to help kill the cancer, for example,
one will inject toxins, while the other
cuts out the tumour carefully without
damaging healthy cells around it.
Another robot will be able to send video
footage of this happening to the surgeon
treating the patient.
A picture showing a polymer sphere capsule
for drug delivery.

Researchers developing this technology
Researchers such as Dr. Mintz of the
have come across some challenges that
Fox Chase Cancer Institute
they need to overcome. The main
(Philadelphia) say that ‘it is conceivable
problem is with the quantity of toxin
that many types of cancer will be cured
which goes into each capsule. This is
within this next decade.’ This is also the
because too much of the toxin at any one
view of Dr. Von Eschenbach from the
point can damage the body, therefore the
National Cancer Institute in the USA,
process has to be spread out over a
who says ‘cancer will be vanquished by
longer period of time, using lots of small
2015. I rest my hopes on the new
doses. As there is not enough financial
targeted drugs as well as extraordinary
support or funding into the project,
enabling technologies of various types
researches can not look into this as much
including nanotechnology.’
as they hoped in order to find a solution
The hopes of the researchers and the
to the problem.
new technology look very promising for
Researchers are hoping to overcome the
nanotechnology and the future cure for
problems they face and find a cure for
cancer within the next decade.
This picture shows the
structure of a buckyball
encapsulating another
material within.