Nanotechnology to the rescue of the Lyme patients

Listening to music with bad earphones may result headache and harm your hearing, but having the best gaming headset might fix that. Some other health issues also could be solved with technology, though pretty higher than phones.

People in the north eastern parts of the US are familiar with Lyme disease and its associated symptoms. It is estimated that more than 300,000 Americans contract this disease and some live with the symptoms for life.

What is Lyme disease?

This is a disease caused by the bite of blacklegged ticks; they transfer the bacteria Borrelia Burgdorferi which induces skin rash, muscle ache, fever, headache, and fatigue. Since the symptoms are quite similar to several other diseases, they escape detection till it is too late. Untreated disease can lead to joint inflammation or Lyme arthritis, facial palsy, neuropathy, impaired memory and even heart problems.

Testing of Lyme disease

Since the symptoms are non-specific diagnosis is difficult. At present ELISA is done to identify the presence of the bacteria but this test is laden with false positives. And it fails to detect the disease in the initial stages.

The inadequacy of the present tests leads to late detection especially in areas where ticks are uncommon. Early detection and treatment ensures quicker recovery and minimal residual symptoms.

The various uses of Nanotechnology

Nanotechnology involves handling matter at an atomic or molecular level. The field of medicine has seen the use of nano particles in the detection of cancer and other infectious diseases. The cutting edge technology has been used in several diagnostic tests.

At present medicine is exploring the possibility of using nanotechnology in the treatment of cancer. It is believed that nano particles can reach the target areas very accurately and release the precise dose of medication to eradicate the tumor cells.

Nanotechnology is also helping in developing really small and efficient devices for surgery; when the incision spot is small, the recovery and healing time are faster.

Nanotechnology in detection of Lyme disease

The possibility of using the nano particles in the early detection of Lyme disease did not escape the scientists of the George Mason University. They in collaboration with Ceres, a US based Biotechnology Company developed a urine based antigen to detect Lyme disease.

This test is a very specific test which detects the Lyme disease in the early stages itself. The nano particles attach themselves to the biomarkers, in this case the protein OspA, found in the urine of Lyme patients. The size of the nano particles ensures that even the minutest of particles that the regular tests miss ado not escape. This is the reason that the test is so effective.

The possibility of using this technology in the prevention and treatment of the disease is interesting and the research is on in this field.

The future of nano medicine

The use of nano particles in medical devices, tissue engineering and in oncology are exciting and promise a healthy future. At the same time concern on the toxicity of these particles is rising. The long term effect on human health and the environment is still not very clear. As a result, there are several organizations that are appealing for governments to monitor the use of nanotechnology till their effect on the environment is clear. But for now we are hopeful that the new antigen test will relieve people suffering from Lyme disease from long term harmful effects and lead a productive life.