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Nanotechnology: A Magic Bullet to Cure Cancer 
 
by Mark R. Whittington September 14, 2005

How Soon Will These Techniques Be Available?

Forecasting when a technology, especially a medical technology, will be available for use is not an exact science. The progress of medical research can very often be agonizingly slow. Many blind alleys have to be explored before even animal testing can be performed. And even techniques that show promise in animal testing very often do not prove as useful once human trials begin. And of course government bureaucracies such as the Food and Drug Administration take a great deal of time to approve new drugs and medical techniques for clinical use.

Nevertheless, some nanotechnology therapies are already available. Liposomes, a first generation nanotechnology device, is being used to deliver drugs to treat certain kinds of fungal infections as well as some kinds of cancer. A team at MIT have managed to successfully kill cancer tumors in mice using a nanodevice delivered drug. Another team at Stanford has used carbon nanotubes to heat and destroy cancer cells.

In 2001, the National Cancer Institute suggested that nanodevices that could detect cancers could be available in “five to fifteen years” and that similar devices that could treat cancers would be available in about the same time frame. Devices that can both detect and treat cancers could be available in “fifteen to twenty years.”

That means that within the lifetimes of most people, cancer, that great killer of our time, may no longer be fraught with the horrors we view it with now. Our descendents might well view cancer as we view certain plagues of the past, like small pox, as part of history and no longer as part of everyday life.

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