Sometimes, smaller is better. Scientists who work with atoms and molecules have discovered new ways to fight cancer and heal the human body. Using nanotechnology—the science of things measured in billionths of a meter—they have found new ways to attack tumors.
Small and Mighty
A nanometer is one billionth of a meter, or 10-9 meters. Your DNA is about 2.5 nanometers wide. Nanotechnologists work with molecules that measure between 1 and 100 nanometers. Nanotechnology is especially useful in the field of medicine. Scientists have used nanotechnology to grow new skin for victims of severe burns. Certain cancer therapies are being developed that use nanotechnology to treat tumors without hurting healthy cells. Researchers are using tiny molecules to take drugs straight to tumors, enabling them to hit their intended targets with very small doses of medicine. Previously, doctors have had to treat the whole body with cell-killing drugs, which means that healthy cells die too. As a result, cancer patients undergoing such treatments lose their hair and the lining of their stomachs. With advancements in nanotechnology, patients may be able to avoid these terrible side effects of chemotherapy.
These new nanotechnology-based therapies allow doctors to target drugs specifically at cancer cells and enable them to reach tumors in all parts of the body. By creating medicines at the molecular level, scientists hope to improve upon existing treatments and save more lives than ever before.
Watch the videos below to learn more about nanotechnology and its role in the fight against cancer. In the last clip, see how a high school student devised a potential cure for cancer involving nanoparticles.