Nanotechnology offers hope in thalassemia battle
A GOLDSMITH often drinks the water he uses to cool a freshly crafted ornament, going by the ancient belief that the gold nano-particles present in the water is good for health reasons.
In a recent study on nano-technology, Indian scientists have invented a solution for immediate detection of thalassemia following a similar theory. The study shows a specific interaction of haemoglobin, a component of blood, with copper nano-particles can help identify if the person suffers from thalassemia.
Prasenjit Sen at the School of Physical Sciences, JNU and Anjan K. Dasgupta, Department of Bio chemistry, Calcutta University, worked to unravel the interaction of haemoglobin with some nano-particles. The study showed copper nano-particles interact only with one type of haemoglobin, paving the way for selectively identifying various haemoglobins thereby enabling detection of thalassemia.
Living organisms are composed of cells, about 10 microns in size.
However, cell parts are much smaller, of the order of a few nanometres (nm) (about 50,000 times smaller than human hair).
"Nano-materials synthesized in the laboratory are of the same size as the cell parts. This makes these materials capable "spies" to take a closer look at the cellular machinery in detail, hitherto unknown," said Professor Sen.
"It is an interesting study with a potential to provide a cheap diagnostic tool," said Dr. Randeep Guleria, Professor of Medicine, AIIMS.
Prominent haematologist, Dr. Rajat Kumar said, "It is a new technology and we have to be positive. It has to have 100 per cent positive results, be reproducible and importantly, be comparable to the HPLC gold standard. Unless mass scale trials are conducted it is too early to predict the outcome of the study."
A typical thalassemia test costs between Rs. 500 to 600 . However, these inventors claim the costs using nano-technology may be much less. If that happens, mass screening of population in a country like India may just be possible.
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