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Cancer's Nemesis by Steve Waite
Cancer is the 2nd leading cause of death in the United States after heart disease. Despite all the amazing advances in medicine and health care in the 20th century, there is still a great deal physicians don't know about cancer. Last month, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) launched a new research program called the Alliance for Nanotechnology in Cancer. The "Nanotechnology in Cancer" program is an integrated, 144 million dollar, 5-year initiative. The goal of the Alliance is to help meet the NCI's goal of eliminating death and suffering from cancer by 2015. The NCI wants to harness the power of nanotechnology to radically change the way physicians diagnose, image, and treat cancer.
The mandate for the NCI's Alliance is to develop and apply nanotechnology to cancer prevention, detection, diagnosis and treatment. The programs established already at the NCI have supported research on novel nano devices capable of one or more clinically important functions, including detecting cancer at its earliest stages, pinpointing its location within the body, delivering anticancer drugs specifically to malignant cells, and determining if these drugs are killing malignant cells.
According to the NCI, the Alliance will encompass researchers, clinicians, and public and private organizations that have joined forces to translate cancer-related nanotechnology research into clinical practice. The NCI notes that nanotechnology has already demonstrated promising results in cancer research and treatment. The new initiative builds on the scientific advances in genomics and proteomics and our understanding of the molecular underpinnings of cancer by facilitating cross-disciplinary and cross-sector collaboration with nanotechnology, which the NCI believes is ripe for biomedical application.
The advent of nanotechnology in cancer research could not have come at a more opportune time. The vast knowledge of cancer genomics and proteomics emerging as a result of the Human Genome Project is providing critically important details of how cancer develops, which, in turn, creates new opportunities to attack the molecular underpinnings of cancer.
However, scientists lack the technological innovations to turn promising molecular discoveries into benefits for cancer patients. It is here that nanotechnology can play a pivotal role, providing the technological power and tools that will enable those developing new diagnostics, therapeutics, and preventives to keep pace with today's explosion in knowledge.
Nanotechnology, says the NCI, provides a platform for integrating efforts in proteomics with other scientific investigations into the molecular nature of cancer by giving researchers the opportunity to simultaneously measure gene and protein expression, recognize specific protein structures and structural domains, and follow protein transport among different cellular compartments.
As innovative nanodevices are evaluated in clinical trials, NCI researchers envision that nanotechnology will serve as multifunctional tools that will not only be used with any number of diagnostic and therapeutic agents, but will change the very foundations of cancer diagnosis, treatment, and prevention. These are the early days in the evolution of nan technology, but cancer may one day in the not-too-distant future meet its nemesis.
eNano website editor's notes: The cure for cancer may relatively soon be discovered, thanks to nanotechnology medical research. In addition, here is a very educational link to the latest research offered by nano government operated nano web-site.