It seems that cannabis can treat everything- from chronic pain to acne and maybe even cancer. But as cannabinoids are known to degrade quickly, effective ways to deliver the compounds to where they are needed are limited. This is where nanotechnology may be able to help.
Nanotechnology is the branch of technology that deals with substances on an atomic scale- under 100 nanometers in size- or one thousand times thinner than a sheet of paper. At this scale, materials tend to have different properties to larger ones- including better electrical conductance, more strength, different chemical reactivity, and different magnetic properties.
As such, one of the most relevant uses of nanotechnology when looking at cannabis is drug delivery. In this case, nanoparticles can be engineered to deliver substances directly to specific cells like diseased cancer cells, limiting their ability to bind with and damage healthy cells.
Scientists have already shown that synthetic cannabinoids delivered by nanocarriers are more effective than conventional delivery methods for treating tumor cells both in Petri dishes and in mice. To do so, they developed nanoparticles to work together. One located the tumor and then notified the other to deliver the drug to it.
Using nanotechnology to deliver drugs- in this case, cannabinoids- seems to provide two specific advantages. One is being able to target problem areas more accurately. The other is by improving the drugs' bioavailability- the rate at which it enters the bloodstream. By creating a protective barrier between the drug and the body- usually by combining two liquids that don't mix like oil and water- scientists can prevent the drug from degrading while moving through the body. This means it's more intact to treat whatever illness it has been engineered to combat.
Although a promising research avenue, before any treatments become available, clinical trials are needed to confirm whether they work in humans too. Nevertheless, given the efficacy of nanomedicine for other ailments from cancer to asthma and fungal and infections, many say this is just a matter of time.