Microscopic Phenomenon

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Booksie Classic
This is an essay I wrote about 2 years ago for the Dupont Writing Challenge. The challenge was to write about current technology that could help society and there was a word limit of 1,000 words. I won $1,000 which was the Regional first place winner i think. The national winner got $3,000. It is about nanotechnology used to fight cancer.

Submitted: July 21, 2009

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Submitted: July 21, 2009

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You stand outside your bathroom, crying. Inside the bathroom is your father, puking after a strenuous chemotherapy session. The rest of the house is alone with their thoughts. You wish, not for the first time, and not for the last, that somehow things could be easier. By using nanoparticles to fight cancer, this could happen. Nanoparticles are in the air, sun block, household goods, cosmetics and much more. They are so powerful they could possibly save someone from cancer and have a positive effect on their health.
A nanoparticle is a microscopic particle whose size is measured in nanometers. These amazing things are atoms and molecules that are 80,000 times smaller than the width of a human hair. Each nanoparticle has a different use based on their composition. Can you believe it? Millions and millions of nanoparticles are in use as we speak.
For some time now, there have been studies conducted to find how nanoparticles could be used to fight cancer. Targeted nanoparticles present hopeful techniques for cancer treatment. In the lab of Mark E. Davis (at California Institute of Technology), researchers have been using miniscule interfering RNA (siRNA) to “silence” certain genes implicated in malignancies. There is just one challenge: delivering the therapeutic agent safely and effectively into the body and tumor. Forming siRNA nanoparticles using cyclodexrin containing polycation is one of the most hopeful ways of delivering siRNA. Although delivering the nanoparticles to the cancerous cells may be an issue, I think that nanoparticles are a solution to fighting cancer. This is because researchers have shown that by using targeted nanoparticles; methodically delivered siRNA can slow the growth of tumors in mice without bringing out the toxicities and side effects associated with cancer treatment. If it works on mice, it will probably work on humans as well. An infinitesimal particle could put an end to the painful effects of cancer! (Elsevier Health Sciences 1 and 2)
Have you seen gold jewelry in shop windows, like necklaces? Do you believe that gold nanoparticles, less than a shaving off one of those necklaces, could help fight cancer in a positive way? Well, they can. Researchers Ivan El-Sayed and Mostafa El-Sayed from the University of California-San Francisco have developed a new and powerful way to kill cancerous cells. In previous research, they used gold nanoparticles to detect cancer, but now they are heating nanoparticles and using them as agents to destroy the malignant cells in a body. Cancer cells contain a protein which is known as epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) all over them, but healthy cells do not convey this protein as strongly as the cancer cells do. By binding the gold nanoparticles to an antibody for EGFR, the father and son researching team were able to get the nanoparticles to attach themselves to cancer cells. “This gold nanoparticle agent can be used to non-invasively find the cancer and kill it. Nor is this technique toxic to human cells because they have been used in humans for the past 50 years to (for example: a radioactive form of colloidal gold has been used to search for cancerous lymph nodes).” says Ivan El-Sayed. A non-invasive way to find cancer and kill it sounds pretty optimistic to me. (University of California-San Francisco 2) 
One of the biggest issues with using nanoparticles to fight cancer is how to put them safely and effectively into the body. Plant extracts were tested as a possible container because of their ability as nontoxic vehicles to stabilize and deliver nanoparticles for vivo (in the body) nanomedical uses. Researchers from MU’s School of Medicine and College of Arts and Science found that gum arabic (already used to stabilize foods like yogurt and Big Macs) could be used to absorb and assimilate metal types and create a cover that made gold nanoparticles stable and non toxic. (University of Missouri-Columbia 2 and 3) 
I can understand the notion that nanoparticles can damage your liver, but that is not true. The nanoparticles that could potentially damage the liver are airborne nanoparticles in traffic exhaust and in the environment. These nanoparticles can enter the lungs when you breathe and affect your health. (University of Edinburgh 3) It is very similar to how you catch the flu or a common cold. Those nanoparticles end up in the bloodstream, which, as you know, winds its way to the liver for filtering. But these nanoparticles are from the environment and pollution so they do not affect the recipient’s health if used to fight cancer. Therefore the nanoparticles that could damage the liver have nothing to do with the nanoparticles used to fight cancer. 
A Dutch researcher named Cristianne Rijcken has developed a biodegradable nanoparticle.  The new nanoparticle has a spherical structure that shows lots of potential as carrier for anticancer drugs. Sometimes anticancer drugs can have extremely harmful side effects since they do not differentiate between tumors and healthy tissue. But by surrounding the drugs in nanoparticles, they most likely will end up in the right tissue. This biodegradable “nanoball” only releases the drug once the particles break down. The breakdown period can be adjusted by using different components for the nanostructures. These carriers benefit the use of nanoparticles to fight cancer positively because they make the injection of anticancer drugs into your body safe and effective. And to top it off, this “nanoball” decreases the side effects of cancer. Knowing this, I believe that the nanoparticle part in cancer should be maximized since it could save many lives. (Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research 3 and 4)
The responsible thing to do is to begin to promote the fact that nanoparticles will play a large and positive part in cancer studies in the future. Already experiments have tested different types of nanoparticles (target, gold, etc.) to battle cancer. And so far, results have been favorable. It’s obvious that we should look more to the tiny particles that surround us to help fight the ugly demon called cancer. 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Word count: 1,000
(excluding bibliography)
 
 
 
 
Bibliography:
 
American Association for Cancer Research, "Nanoparticles Can Damage DNA, Increase Cancer Risk." Nanoparticles Can Damage DNA, Increase Cancer Risk. 18 April 2007. ScienceDaily. 28 Jan 2008 <http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/04/070417154357.htm>.
 
Elsevier Health Sciences, "Targeted nanoparticles incorporating siRNA offer promise for cancer treatment." Targeted nanoparticles incorporating siRNA offer promise for cancer treatment. 21 May 2007. BrightSurf. 25 Jan 2008 <http://www.brightsurf.com/news/headlines/30679/Targeted_nanoparticles_incorporating_siRNA_offer_promise_for_cancer_treatment.html>.
 
John Wiley and Sons Inc., "Dead On Target: Nanoparticle Seeks Out And Binds With Cancer Cells." Dead On Target: Nanoparticle Seeks Out And Binds With Cancer Cells. 24 January 2007. ScienceDaily. 28 Jan 2008 <http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/06/070622115203.htm>.
 
Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research, "Biodegradable Nanoballs To Deliver Drugs Directly To Cancer Cells." Biodegradable Nanoballs To Deliver Drugs Directly To Cancer Cells. 25 October 2007. ScienceDaily. 25 Jan 2008 <http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/10/071024102700.htm>.
 
University of California- San Francisco, "Gold nanoparticles show potential for noninvasive cancer treatment." Gold nanoparticles show potential for noninvasive cancer treatment. 10 October 2005. BrightSurf. 25 Jan 2008 <http://www.brightsurf.com/news/headlines/21311/Gold_nanoparticles_show_potential_for_noninvasive_cancer_treatment.html>.
 
University of Edinburgh, "Tiny particles may pose threat to liver cells, say scientists." Tiny particles may pose threat to liver cells, say scientists. 5 April 2006. BrightSurf. 23 Jan 2008 <http://www.brightsurf.com/news/headlines/23772/Tiny_particles_may_pose_threat_to_liver_cells_say_scientists.html>.
 
University of Missouri-Columbia, "Ingredient in Big Macs, Sodas Stabilizes Gold Nanoparticles for Medical Use." Ingredient in Big Macs, Sodas Stabilizes Gold Nanoparticles for Medical Use. 27 February 2007. ScienceDaily. 24 Jan 2008 <http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/02/070226131523.htm>.
 
 


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