by Tatiana Velitchkov © 2007
What if you were terminally ill and your doctor informed you that the venom from a snail could save your life?
What if the technology was available to produce a non-addictive painkiller that was thousands of times more potent than any morphine based product available today?
What if nanotechnology could provide the method of administering these potentially life-saving, pain elimination medicines within the near future? Would you be willing to support its advancement?
Well, nanotechnology is rapidly taking the “what if” out of just such medical conundrums. Biochemists, working in close liaison with nano-scientists, have discovered that the highly lethal venom contained in cone snails, which are found in coastal waters near coral reefs, can be extracted and, when administered via nanotechnologic methods, can potentially be used as a safe and effective alternative to highly addictive morphine-based medications.
Nanotechnology initiative programs are leading the highly competitive worldwide race in mining and providing a conduit for administering spiral snail toxins (known as conotoxins) and are developing methods of administering this peptide in a safe and positive manner.
Changes to the ion channels in human cells are directly responsible for a myriad of health disorders. Ion channels, which traditionally allow only calcium and potassium through their highly specific filtering system, can now be treated with toxins that have the ability to deactivate these channels. However, in the past, administration of these life altering conotoxins has offered a bit of a challenge to biology experts. That is, until now. This is where nanotechnology, with its innate ability to connect quantum dots, has provided a viable method of probing and infiltrating the cells in order to safely administer life altering drugs.
Due to its ability to specifically target finite and defined cells, nano-quantum dot technology provides the wherewithal to deliver conotoxins to targeted areas. Quantum dot, a nano-scale crystalline structure, is being investigated as a method of introducing medicine to specific areas of the body where the crystals act as probes that are able to track and report on antibodies, any viral activity, proteins in the area and even DNA composition.
By a system of imaging, this biochemistry and nanotechnology combination allows scientists and medical personnel alike to monitor the progression of the administered conotoxins within the body and allow the manipulation of toxin released at the designated sites.
Conotoxins have been proven as effective early detection and treatment methods for small cell lung cancer and for promoting anti-seizure treatment in epileptics. In addition, some success has been shown in treating patients who have suffered spinal cord injury, re-activating cells damaged due to oxygen deprivation and in treating clinical depression, irregular heart rhythms and some instances of urinary incontinence. Nanotechnology plays a vital role in the success of administering this innovative treatment by providing a safe and non-invasive method of administering treatment while reducing the risk of rejection by the body.
The possibility of advanced medical treatments when biochemistry, medicine and nanotechnology work in conjunction with one another is limitless.
Nanotechnology research has showed some promise in treatment of aging-related tissue degeneration in humans. With its in- vivo therapy, nanotechnology is credited with repairing degraded components of human DNA which significantly counterbalances and, in some cases, actually corrects the effects of common crippling age-related afflictions such as arthritis, osteoporosis and other debilitating diseases.
© Tatiana Velitchkov
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