“YOU ARE HIV POSITIVE,” The one sentence that makes the patient sink in the depths of despair and maims the morale of his/her family members. The trouble is the absence of full proof treatment for the deadly disease. Let alone the fight to destroy it, the available anti-HIV drugs aim at extending the patients’ life span by just few more years. A way of combating and eradicating AIDS has finally come into view by the grace of nanotechnology.
Acquired immune deficiency syndrome (HIV/AIDS) is a spectrum of conditions caused by infection with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Following initial infection, a person may not notice any symptoms or at the most may experience a brief period of influenza-like illness. As the infection progresses, it interferes more with the immune system, increasing the risk of common infections like tuberculosis, as well as other opportunistic infections, and tumors that rarely affect people who have working immune systems.
Image credits: http://www.basuah.org/
- Nano robotics:
It is the technology of creating machines or robots at or close to the microscopic scale of nanometers (10-9 meters). Nanorobots would be devices ranging in size from 0.1-10 micrometers. Their size enables them to work at atomic, molecular and cellular level. Nanorobots are constructed of carbon atoms, generally in diamond structure because of inert properties and strength. Nanorobots are envisioned to respond to acoustic signals.
Image credits: https://www.outerplaces.com/science/item/8975-nanobots-could-be-the-future-of-the-medical-industry
What acts anti-HIV in the present scenario:
Zidovudine is the latest known drug that is used for treatment of AIDS. However its side-effects include nausea, vomiting, acid reflux (heartburn), headache, cosmetic reduction in abdominal body fat, light sleeping, and loss of appetite. As the treatment is lengthy and expensive, it has been deemed unfeasible in the global south and a number of studies are initiated that sought to test the efficacy of a shorter, simpler yet effective regimen.
This is the way the squad fights it:
Zidovudine can be used to resist the HIV but the virus cannot be destroyed. Destruction of viral genome is possible by using nanorobots. This type of nanorobots will consists of:
- Nano-biosensor: To detect the presence of an infected cell.
- Nano-chip: A chip which will receive the signal from Nano-biosensor and will perform its job.
- Nano-tube: A tube in nanoscale. On receiving +ve signal, the nanotube will be injected into the nucleus of the cell.
- A container containing high concentration (say 20 u/microlitre) of DNase and RNase enzyme: This will be delivered into the infected cell and start treating it.
Most animal cells are 10,000 to 20,000 nanometers in diameter. This means that nanoscale devices can enter cells and the organelles inside them can interact with DNA and proteins. Tools developed through nanotechnology may be able to detect disease in a very small amount of cells or tissue. They may also be able to enter and monitor cells within a living body. Nanotechnology could make it possible to run many diagnostic tests simultaneously as well as with more sensitivity. In general, nanotechnology may offer a faster and more efficient means for us to do much of what we do now.
What makes it a potential option:
- More than million people in this world are affected by this dreaded disease. Currently no permanent vaccine or medicine is available to cure the disease.
- The nanorobot does not generate any harmful side effect. It operates at specific site only.
Factors to be re-considered:
- The nanorobot should be very accurate, otherwise harmful effects may occur.
- The initial design cost is very high.
- The design of this nanorobot is a very complicated one.
The final word:
The recent advancement in the field of Nanotechnology gives us the hope of application of this technology in medical field. This is the beginning of the Nano era and we could expect further improvements such as a medicine against various other fatal diseases using nanotechnology. Lastly it may be said, “Small is the size; Bigger is the impact”