How will nanobiotechnology lead a better future for us all?

Nanotechnology and Biotechnology are  becomming the  most promising technologies for global market. Nanotechnology  is defined as  development, application and designing of materials & devices whose least functional make up is on a nanometer scale. And Biotechnology deals with physiological and metabolic processes of biological subjects including microorganisms. Nanobiotechnology is the association of these two which plays a vital role in developing and implementing many useful tools in the study of life. There is number of clinical applications of nanobiotechnology, such as target-specific drug delivery, diagnosis of diseases and molecular imaging are being laboriously investigated at present. Some promising products are also undergoing clinical trial. Such advanced applications of this approach to biological systems will undoubtedly transform the foundations of diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of disease in future. Here are ten applications of nanobiotechnology  which is gradually making an impact on human lives:

1. Detection

 

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Many  used/conventional clinical tests reveal the presence of a disease causing organism by detecting the binding of a specific antibody to the disease-related target. Nano biotechnology offers a solution by using semiconductor nanocrystals (also referred to as “quantum dots”). These minuscule probes can withstand significantly more cycles of excitation and light emissions than typical organic molecules, which more readily decompose.

2.  Individual target probes

 

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Nano gold particles studded with short segments of DNA form the basis of the easy-to-read test for the presence of any given genetic sequence. If the sequence of interest in the samples, it binds to complementary DNA tentacles on multiple nano spheres and forms a dense web of visible gold balls. This technology allows/facilitates the detection of pathogenic organisms and has shown promising results in the detection of anthrax, giving much higher sensitivity than tests that are currently being used.

 

3. Drug Testing

 

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Nanoparticles as therapeutics can be delivered to targeted sites, including locations that cannot be easily reached by standard drugs. Drugs are designed to carry a therapeutic payload (radiation, chemotherapy or gene therapy) as well as for imaging applications . Many agents, which cannot be administered orally due to their poor bioavailability, will now have scope of use in therapy with the help of nanotechnology. Nano-formulations offer protection for agents vulnerable to degradation or denaturation when exposed to extreme pH, and also prolong half-life of a drug by expanding retention of the formulation through bioadhesion. Another broad application of nanotechnology is the delivery of antigens for vaccination. Recent advances in encapsulation and development of suitable animal models have demonstrated that microparticles and nanoparticles are capable of enhancing immunization .

 

4. Diagonsis of Disease

 

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Optimally, diseases should be diagnosed and cured before symptoms even manifest themselves. Nucleic acid diagnostics will play a crucial role in that process, as they allow the detection of pathogens and diseases/diseased cells at such an early symptomless stage of disease progression that effective treatment is more feasible. Current technology, such as- polymerase chain reaction (PCR) leads toward such tests and devices, but nanotechnology is expanding the options currently available, which will result in greater sensitivity and far better efficiency and economy.

5. Protein chips

 

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Protein chips can be treated with chemical groups, or small modular protein components, that can specifically bind to proteins containing a certain structural or biochemical motif . Two companies currently operating in this application space are Agilent, Inc. and NanoInk, Inc. Agilent uses a non-contact ink-jet technology to produce microarrays by printing oligos and whole cDNAs onto glass slides at the nanoscale. NanoInk uses dip-pen nanolithography (DPN) technology to assemble structure on a nanoscale of measurement .

6. Sparse cell detection

 

This schematic depicts a new system that uses tiny magnetic beads to quickly detect rare types of cancer cells circulating in a patient's blood, an advance that could help medical doctors diagnose cancer earlier than now possible and monitor how well a patient is responding to therapy. (Purdue School of Mechanical Engineering image/ Bin-Da Chan)

 

Sparse cells are physiologically distinct from their surrounding cells in normal physiological conditions. They are significant in the detection and diagnosis of various genetic defects. However, it is a challenge to identify and  isolate these sparse cells. Nanobiotechnology presents new opportunities for advancement in this area. Scientists developed nanosystems capable of effectively sorting sparse cells from blood and other tissues. This technology takes advantage of/exploits the unique properties of sparse cells manifested in differences in deformation, surface charges and affinity for specific receptors and/or ligands.

7. Biomolecular Engineering

 

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The use of solid substrate usually means less waste and the ability to manipulate the biomolecule far more precisely. EngeneOS (Waltham, Massachusetts) pioneered the field of biomolecular engineering. The company developed the engineered genomic operating systems that create programmable biomolecular machines employing natural and artificial building blocks. These biomolecule machines have broad range of commercial applications-as biosensors, in chemical synthesis and processing, as bioelectronic devices and materials, in nanotechnology, in functional genomics and in drug discovery.

8. Surfaces

 

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There are lot  of the complicated interactions between molecules and surfaces.  Nanofabrication unravels the complexity of these interactions by modifying surface characteristics with nanoscale resolutions, which can lead to hybrid biological systems. This hybrid material can be used to screen drugs, as sensors, or as medical devices and implants. Nanosystems, owned by the Irish drug company Elan, developed a polymer coating capable of changing the surface of drugs that have poor water solubility.

 9. Tool in imaging

 

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Intracellular imaging can be made possible through labelling of target molecules with quantum dots (QDs) or synthetic chomophores, such as fluorescent proteins that will facilitate direct investigation of intracellular signalling complex by optical techniques, i. e. confocal fluorescence microscopy or correlation imaging.

10. Biopharmaceuticals

 

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Nanobiotechnology can develop drugs for diseases that conventional pharmaceuticals cannot target. The pharmaceutical industry traditionally focuses on developing drugs to treat a defined universe of about five hundred confirmed disease targets. But approximately 70 to 80 percent of the new candidates for drug development fail, and these failures are often discovered late in the development process, with the loss of millions of dollars in R&D investments. Nanobiotechnology brings the ability to physically manipulate targets, molecules and atoms on solid substrates by tethering them to bio membranes and controlling where and when chemical reactions take place, in a fast process that requires few materials .