Stroke, a cardiovascular disease, occurs when there is an interruption of the blood supply to the brain (Stroke Foundation – Australia, 2019). In Australia, stroke is one of the biggest killers. In 2017, there were 56 000 new or recurrent stroke attacks (Stroke Foundation – Australia, 2019). Furthermore, of all stroke cases, 80% could have been prevented (Stroke Foundation – Australia, 2019). In 2016, 5.2%, or 8 200, of deaths in Australia were a result of stroke (Stroke Foundation – Australia, 2019). Despite the rate of stroke death in people aged over 55 steadily declining over the years, results could be further improved (Stroke Foundation – Australia, 2019). This can occur through nanotechnology. For this research investigation, the claim ‘Nanotechnology will underpin future technological innovations’ will be explored and a conclusion will be reached.
The claim contains certain words and phrases, which will have significance when agreeing or disagreeing with it. Nanotechnology is often described as a form of science conducted at the nanoscale (United States National Nanotechnology Initiative, n.d.). It is the study and application of minute objects used across other science areas (United States National Nanotechnology Initiative, n.d.). Introduced in 1959 by Richard Feynman, applying nanotechnology involves viewing and controlling individual atoms and molecules (United States National Nanotechnology Initiative, n.d.). Comparatively, a nanometre is 1-7cm (Stroke Foundation – Australia, 2019). The word ‘underpin’ will be defined as supporting, justifying or forming the basis of (Merriam-Webster, Incorporated, 2019). ‘Future technological innovations’ will be described as any innovation that has not been invented yet (Branscomb, 2001). This technological innovation can be part of any area of study, whether medicine, energy, space or electricity (United States National Nanotechnology Initiative, n.d.).
This research investigation will examine the use of nanotechnology in relation to patients and their health. This will occur by exploring how nanotechnology can be used as a diagnostic tool for certain illnesses. Furthermore, using nanotechnology as a form of treatment will also be investigated. Additionally, the challenges and further problems that arise from using nanotechnology will also be explored.
In this research investigation, the effects of nanotechnology will be examined. It will also be considered whether nanotechnology is the foundation of future technological innovations. For this purpose, the research question ‘How can nanotechnology be used to target cancerous cells, without bringing further or irreparable damage to the patient’s health and the environment?’. To further the research conducted, the organ in the patient was specified. In so doing, the patient’s heart was selected to be the area to be investigated. A type of disease was also initially thought of investigating. However, the area, too, proved to be too broad in research. Hence, a specific disease has been selected. The type of disease was cardiovascular disease. Of the numerous cardiovascular diseases, stroke was chosen to be the disease to be further explored. Thus, the research question became:
‘How can nanotechnology be used as prevention or treatment for stroke, without bringing irreparable damage to the patient’s heart or head?’
Diagnosis of Stroke
Nanotechnology can be used as a diagnostic tool for detecting stroke (Kyle & Saha, 2014). Research has demonstrated that using nanotechnology as a diagnostic tool has often proved to be a more accurate imaging technique (Kyle & Saha, 2014). This is in comparison to magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computed tomography (CT), position emission tomography (PET) and ultrasounds, which are highly beneficial imaging methods (Kyle & Saha, 2014). Nanotechnology can be used through nanoparticles (Kyle & Saha, 2014). An example of these nanoparticles is perflurocarbon (PFC) nanoparticles (Figure 1) (Kyle & Saha, 2014). These are ideal synthetic compounds for nanoscale imaging because it fulfils the criteria molecular agents must have (Kyle & Saha, 2014). PFC nanoparticles are useful by being a highly flexible platform (Winter, 2014). They can take the role of many biological agents, which can be used both as a diagnostic and therapeutic tool for stroke patients (Winter, 2014). PFC nanoparticles can be used as targeting agents, imaging modalities, molecular imaging and drug delivery (Winter, 2014). For instance, the molecular agents that are to be used in nanoscale imaging must be sensitive and selective against the epitope of interest, a prominent contrast-to-noise enhancement, nontoxic and have the capacity to be imaged into available equipment (Kyle & Saha, 2014). PFC nanoparticles, synthetic organic compounds, are where fluorine atoms replaced hydrogen atoms (Figure 1) (Kyle & Saha, 2014). These nanoparticles also have a liquid PFC core, which is surrounded by a lipid monolayer (Figure 1) (Winter, 2014). This lipid monolayer can be modified to contain various features used for imaging or therapy (Winter, 2014). PFC nanoparticles being able to contain features for both imaging and therapeutic activity makes it an incredibly useful nanoparticle. PFC nanoparticles also have the ability to target epitopes (Figure 1) (Sarmah, et al., 2017). PFC nanoparticles can be used as site targeted imaging, by attaching imaging agents onto the surface of the particle (Winter, 2014). By attaching the site targeted imaging, they can provide more specific and accurate imaging, compared to current methods (Winter, 2014). For instance, in CT scans, the actual PFC nanoparticle contains radio-opaque properties (Winter, 2014). These enable the PFC nanoparticles to be detected by the CT (Winter, 2014). Furthermore, if the nanoparticles have an additional iodinated oil in the core, the CT imaging contrast can be improved by a factor of 4.5 (Winter, 2014). In MRI imaging, the PFC nanoparticle can be used to directly display fluorine signals emanating from the PFC core (Winter, 2014). Additionally, in the body, there are no other sources of fluorine, which means that the fluorine signals from the PFC can be directly transmitted (Winter, 2014). PFC nanoparticles can also reside in the blood stream for a long period of time, which increases the probability of attaching itself to a biomarker which can cause disease (Winter, 2014). These nanoparticles also have a large surface area, which can increase the amount of imaging agents and molecules being attached to it (Winter, 2014). They also have selective delivery, which only delivers therapeutic agents when in close range to the targeted cell, which reduces the damage on the surrounding environment (Winter, 2014). PFC nanoparticles are also compatible with a wide array of medical imaging tools, while functioning based on the strengths and weaknesses of each imaging method (Winter, 2014). Moreover, PFC nanoparticles have the opportunity to include a range of targeting ligands, which can be attached to antibodies, peptides, peptidomimetics and other molecular structures (Winter, 2014). There are also other types of nanoparticles which can be used as a diagnostic tool. These nanoparticles include [image: ]cerium oxide, platinum, iron oxide, gold and novel imaging and quantum dots (Figure 2) (Kyle & Saha, 2014).
Nanotechnology can also be used as a form of therapy and treatment for stroke patients. A form of therapy for patients is using nanotechnology for drug delivery . (Sarmah, et al., 2017) This form of therapy also requires the use of nanoparticles. These nanoparticles include polymeric nanoparticles (Sarmah, et al., 2017). Polymeric nanoparticles are formed from biodegradable polymers (Sarmah, et al., 2017). These biodegradable polymers are long compounds with molecules bonded together, which breaks down after its initial purpose is completed (Abhilash & Thomas, 2017). Another form of stroke therapy is using adenosine in the form of nano-assemblies (Guadin, et al., 2014). Adenosine, a nucleic base, is beneficial in fixing neurological disorders (Guadin, et al., 2014). Once combined with nano-assemblies, improvements were made to any abnormalities found in the body (Guadin, et al., 2014). These improvements were demonstrated through a model of an animal with ischemia, which can lead into an ischemic stroke (Lee, et al., 2011). In a trial conducted by Hyun Jung Lee from the Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology in Chung Ang University, Korea, rats were shown to be protected and treated from an induced stroke (Lee, et al., 2011). In the experiment, rats were pre-treated with amine-modified single-walled carbon nanotubes (Figure 3) (Guadin, et al., 2014). The use of the nanotubes enabled the rats’ neurons to be protected (Nair & G K, 2011). This trial also demonstrated that pre-treated rats with amine-modified single-walled carbon nanotubes were able to protect the rats’ neurons, while enhancing the recovery of their behavioural functions (Nair & G K, 2011). These were tested by placing the rats in an induced stroke (Nair & G K, 2011). The rats also had low levels of angiogenic and inflammation markers, which demonstrated that using amine-modified single-walled carbon nanotubes were effective as a form of stroke treatment (Nair & G K, 2011). This was because the nanotubes protected the brains of the rats from ischaemic stroke (Nair & G K, 2011). Squalenoyl Adenosine (SQAd) nanoassemblies, created through nanoprecipitation, can also be used to treat injuries caused by stroke and spinal injuries (Figure 5) (Guadin, et al., 2014). As shown in Figure 4, the hindlimbs of rats were able to be fully repaired, within 72 hours, through the use of SQAd nanoassemblies (Guadin, et al., 2014). Thus, nanoparticles [image: ]can be used as a form of stroke therapy.
Despite all the advantages and benefits using nanotechnology will bring to stroke patients, there are challenges this innovation faces. One of these challenges is the Blood-Brain Barrier (Sarmah, et al., 2017). Commonly referred to as the BBB, the barrier is a restrictive and essential feature tasked with protecting the brain from all harmful substances (Sarmah, et al., 2017). The BBB also blocks entry of small molecules and macromolecules into the brain (Sarmah, et al., 2017). Nanoparticles can pass through the BBB, however, there may be risks involved, which can ultimately affect the patient’s health (see Figure 6) (Sarmah, et al., 2017). This is because the composition of the BBB is complex and the junctions in the brain’s endothelial lining is narrowly spaced (Sarmah, et al., 2017). Another issue of using nanotechnology is linked to the leaky vasculature and the BBB during a stroke (Sarmah, et al., 2017). During a stroke, the BBB cannot function optimally, which can cause various issues to arise when using nanotechnology (Sarmah, et al., 2017). For instance, the nanoparticles that have entered the bloodstream may enter a systematic circulation (Sarmah, et al., 2017). In these cases, the nanoparticles often enter the brain easier (Sarmah, et al., 2017). However, the nanoparticles containing doses of drugs for delivery may encounter a regurgitation, which causes negative side effects for the patient (Sarmah, et al., 2017). Moreover, the nanoparticles reverting into a systematic circulation can cause haemolysis, which further causes anaemia or reticulocytosis (Sarmah, et al., 2017). These are both classified as life-threatening diseases (Sarmah, et al., 2017).
Quality of Evidence
The evidence used in this research investigation were obtained through scientific journals authored by the people who had conducted the experiment. The journals contained the methods applied in the trials, which were taken on rats and mice. Their trials were also conducted in tertiary institutions. The authors have also provided images of the outcomes of their results. These were used in the process of determining the impacts of SQAd nanoassemblies on stroke and spinal injuries in rats. The information gathered and applied in this research investigation were also obtained from scientific journals. This means that they are generally valid information and data.
Link of Research Findings to Original Claim
The information gathered were also connected to the original claim. The future technological innovations included in this research investigation were related to the many uses of nanotechnology in healthcare and medicine. The research also showed that nanotechnology would form the basis of future innovations, namely as diagnostic and therapeutic tools for stroke patients.
Improvements and Extensions to Investigation
Despite the generally valid information and data obtained in the research, there could be improvements and extensions which could be applied to the investigation. One of these improvements would be to find more cases of trialling the nanotechnological innovations. There were only two trials mentioned in the investigation. By increasing the number of trials described, the validity of the data and results would increase.
After considering the various aspects of nanotechnology as a diagnostic and therapeutic tool for stroke patients, it has been concluded that the original claim is correct. The claim ‘Nanotechnology will underpin future technological innovations’ is correct in the case of using nanotechnology for stroke patients. Nanotechnology can be used as a tool for detecting and diagnosing stroke in patients. This enables the patient to be treated faster. By doing so, the temporary and permanent damage of stroke on the patient will be lessened. Nanotechnology can also be a form of therapy and treatment for stroke patients. This occurs through the use of nanoparticles and nanotubes. These innovations function as a method of delivering the drugs and medicine to the patient’s bloodstream. This can also enable the patient to be treated quicker and more effectively. Moreover, the challenges of using nanotechnology can be overcome. Through further study, trials and research, nanotechnology can be used as the foundation of future technological innovations.
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