Several researchers in the field of drug delivery are exploring the numerous possibilities of nanomedicine for the treatment of various diseases, cancer is a deadly monstrous disease and finding answers to the question, how nanomedicine can change the course of cancer treatment is very exciting to researchers and for the general population. Cancer is a microevolutionary process, and different cancers have different properties, which makes it difficult to treat. Cancer can be simplified as a disease where the cells defy the natural process of their growth control, and invade to various tissues (malignancy), and also invade to other body parts and give rise to secondary tumors, which is called the metastases. The common properties attributed to cancers cells include 1.) Signaling chronic cell proliferation 2.) Uncontrolled cell growth by evasion of growth suppressors, 3.) Invasion of other tissues, organs and develop secondary tumors (Metastasis) 4.) Unlimited cellular proliferation (Replicative immortality) 5.) Developing their own blood vessels for the supply of nutrients (Induce Angiogenesis) 6.) Resisting cell death.
A major challenge of conventional drug delivery to cancer cells is the damage they do to healthy cells, which can be minimized by the use of nanotechnology in drug delivery. The area of cancer nanomedicine presents a promising future for cancer therapy as it offers a considerable technological success and presents a range of features which can be applied drug delivery, a few important applications of nanomedicine in cancer include
· Targeted delivery of anti-cancer drugs to tumor site which improves the efficacy of such drugs and reduces their toxicity to other healthy cells.
· Enhanced pharmaceutical properties of the therapeutic drugs by providing a sustained or a controlled release.
· Biomolecules such as SiRNA which has been found effective against cancers can be delivered by the nanomedicine platform.
· Various nano sized devices can be fabricated to detect or diagnose cancers, site-specific delivery can be achieved using magnetic field or ultrasound, which can aid in therapeutic imaging.
· Two or more anti-cancer molecules can also be delivered by the nanomedicine approach.
While the current lab studies show a considerable success of the nanomedicine, there are still various challenges such as large-scale production, and storage. As we know complex problems need complex solutions and the nanomedicine platform provides a multi-faceted attack against the cancer cells, overcoming the existing challenges would help bench to bedside translation and usher in a modern-day cancer medicine.
Farooq Ali Khan is a postgraduate from NIPER and has been extensively involved in drug delivery, drug-discovery and public health policy. He worked as the Executive vice president of World Health Congress 2017.