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Nanoshells Essay

1033 words - 4 pages

Cancer is an uncontrolled growth of cells which divide too quickly in the body. There are different types of cancer depending on their cause. The known cancer treatments that exist today are chemotherapy, surgery and radiation therapy. Despite the fact that cancer treatments exist nowadays, none of these treatments seem to be as promising as “nanoshells” which have an improvement in sensitivity, specificity and cost effectiveness as compared to those other treatments. Naomi Halas, a professor at Rice University with an Electrical Engineering, Computer Engineering and Chemistry background is known for the invention of “nanoshells”. These nanoshells are tiny spherical nanoparticles which within their structure they contain a dielectric core, one which has either poor electrical conductivity or none at all of silica and a metallic core which is typically gold.
These nanoshells seem to be very promising for therapeutic applications such as that of cancer treatment because of its optical, chemical and physical properties. Because they possess light absorbing properties, these nanoshells may be made to selectively either absorb or scatter light at any wavelength, visible and near-infrared. What is interesting about this is because by tuning nanoshells to absorb infrared radiation, that becomes useful to convert the absorbed radiation into heat which enables to destroy tumors.
Nanoshells are made up of millions of atoms yet they are still bigger than DNA but smaller than a white cell. The body’s immune system ignores these tiny particles which are usually ingested by cancerous cells only because the blood vessels that feed the cancer cells are typically bigger, allowing these nanoparticles to easily enter. This allows us an easier way to selectively deliver the necessary chemicals to cancerous cells only without affecting the healthy white cells.
Some of the side effects currently seen with chemotherapy as mentioned by the National Cancer Institute would be the nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite and diarrhea during the treatment. Some other side effects caused by chemotherapy may be fever, fatigue and hair loss. While the after treatment side effects may become the most worrying ones since they don’t become noticeable right away. They may become evident months or even years after. They may include, heart problems, lung tissue damage or even nerve damage, kidney problems, infertility.
The side effects present during a radiation therapy would be fatigue, inflammation around the treated skin areas, frequent urination and rectal irritation which may include bleeding. Bowel function which is waste matter that discharges from the large intestinal may be a permanent side effect produced by radiation therapy.
These treatments are highly expensive up to a point that they may avoid to obtain it, even those with health insurance since often times the insurance won’t cover it. Aside from their high costs would be that the patients run with the risk that...

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