Nanotechnology or nanotech is the engineering of the functional systems at the nanoscale level which is about 1 in 100 nanometers. Norio Taniguchi in the year 1974 coined the term nanotechnology to define semiconductor processes and ion beam milling displaying characteristic control on the order of a nanometer. Nanotechnology has revolutionized the field of biotechnology and medicine right from diagnosing disease, drug delivery and the application of medical implants for heart, bones, eyes and tissues.
Nanotechnology and Alzheimer’s Disease
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is the most common form of dementia that causes problems with memory, thinking and behavior. AD represents one of the largest global healthcare challenges; however effective treatment is still lacking. Aggregation of amyloid-beta (Aβ) which is the essential component of the amyloid plagues triggers a series of pathogenic cascades that lead to Alzheimer’s disease. Amyloid plagues contribute to the degradation of nerve cells (neurons) in the brain. Clearing amyloid-beta is pursued as a promising disease-modifying treatment.
In the project Nanoparticles for Therapy and Diagnosis of Alzheimer Disease - NAD scientists have developed nanoparticles (NPs) with the size in the order of a billionth of a meter that can cross the blood-brain barrier to reach and eliminate the amyloid plague burden. Scientists have moved a step further and have created nano-biosensors which can help detect early biomarkers identifying people predestined to develop Alzheimer’s disease.
A study conducted by Yao et al. published in the Journal of Controlled Release reveals nanoformulated alpha mangostin (phenolic derivative from mangosteen) alleviated Alzheimer’s disease neuropathy by up-regulating low density lipoprotein receptor (LDLR) expression in liver cells and efficiently facilitated amyloid beta clearance. The study finding has exhibited the powerful capacity of nanotechnology regulating the behavior of drug to improve its therapeutic efficacy in AD.
Apart from its use in the field of brain disease nanotechnology has shown promising results in the area of heart disease management and medical implants.