In an effort to find cures for deadly or life-altering diseases, infections and disorders, doctors and health care professionals are turning to technology. Luckily, medical breakthroughs are almost commonplace in this day and age. Research labs have leveraged their technological capabilities to generate positive results with the potential to benefit scores of afflicted individuals.
For small hospitals and medical centers, the adoption of technology to discover new treatments and cures is a good thing. New treatments are not necessarily expensive or impossible for small facilities – the best ones are less invasive and more controllable, meaning fewer resources allocated to expensive equipment. But even techniques that do require more financial investment are worth the spending.
Nanoparticles can help bones heal
Patients suffering from degenerative bone diseases like osteoporosis may have a new method of treatment, according to Penn State University News. Magnetically-charged nanoparticles carrying healing drugs can be directed toward cracks in the bone and help deliver medicine that would be otherwise difficult to administer. The particles carry a negative charge which is attracted by the cracks in the bone itself, Penn State professor of chemistry Ayusman Sen told the publication.
"When a crack occurs in a bone, it disrupts the minerals in the bone, which leach out as charged particles – as ions – that create an electric field, which pulls the negatively charged nanoparticles toward the crack," said Sen, co-leader of the research team. "Our experiments have shown that a biocompatible particle can quickly and naturally deliver an osteoporosis drug directly to a newly cracked bone."
In other words, even the smallest bone fissure can act as a magnet for these medication-wielding particles.
A number of possibilities
The implications of this finding are enormous. It means that tiny cracks in the bone that may be hard to detect can not only be discovered, but treated simultaneously. Additionally, for patients with limited mobility, traditional bone-grafting techniques may be ineffective, reported Gizmag.
When a broken bone is grafted together, it takes a process of rehabilitation – known as dynamic loading – to strengthen that connection and promote healthy growth of all the other tissues and cells necessary. But when a patient cannot effectively exercise that joint – due to a preexisting musculoskeletal disorder, for example – healing can be a long and difficult process.
In those cases, nanoparticles can be an incredibly useful tool. They guarantee that the bone-healing medicine will get where it needs to go, unlike simply ingesting a pill and hoping for the best.
Plus, the particles could potentially be effective in carrying other drugs throughout the body, with more research. The idea of controlling an antibody's exact destination is a new concept that opens the door for exciting possibilities. Already, new cancer-detection pills using nanoparticles are being researched. The particles feature a similar magnetic charge and can be called to a wearable device for analysis.
With controlled release and specified movements, doctors could potentially limit side effects and target the individual regions that need the most attention. Small hospitals would also benefit financially, as these medicinal techniques might not require the sort of intensive, costly equipment currently utilized – not to mention a highly-skilled surgeon. As these techniques become more viable and other uses become available, patient care will improve and hospitals will have better control.
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