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Nanotechnology for reducing Health risks for Veterinary and the Fishing Industry

With the advent of converging technologies that combine biomedical applications with nanotechnology, it has become possible to improve the breed and life expectancy of livestock. Nanosensor networks will be used to continuously monitor the health of livestock- cows, pigs and sheep will be have built-in sensors that give data about their health and geographical location. A central computer can review the data and any problem can be sorted out immediately.

The standing objective is not limited to monitoring but to diagnose and automatically induce medicines using drug delivery instruments that are implanted into the livestock in advance. This kind of sensoring and automated drug delivery system is called fuel injection principle. This can be compared to build in insulin-delivery devices or commonly called drug chips that are connected with blood glucose sensors for diabetics to control blood sugar levels. This technique can be used in animals for other ailments.

A major drawback of implantable sensoring devices is their composite materials e.g., metal or plastics. This material is generally unsuited to the living tissue. The materials engineered at nano-scale i.e. the nano-sensors are biocompatible.

In this developing nanotechnological era, fitting farm animals with sensors, bio-chips and nanocapsules will make the livestock industrial production units. These sensors are valuable for farm animals and in useful in wildlife conservation. The injectable microchips are used in many ways for animal safety and welfare - to study wild animal behaviour and to trail meat products to their source. Biochips are now used in animal breeding and eradicating genetic diseases. The functional biochips are now used for finding the best breeds in terms of commercially valuable traits. Nanosensors can be fitted in the animals to identify the gene sequence that relate to traits such as disease resistance and slenderness of meat. Thus the best breeder, its gene sequence can be known with these probes and best breeds can be prepared. Moreover, this technique is also used in screening of genetic diseases can be done. Chips are used to rapidly detect diseases. The chip quickly tests the DNA sequences to diagnose a source of pathogens - a response to certain health intimidations such as avian flu, mad cow disease.   

Now a newer technology of microfluidic and nanofluidic system is used. These systems work by regulating the flow of liquids or gases through a chain of small channels and valves. Microfluidic channels are generally imprinted into silicon and are less than 100 nm wide. This kind of network permits them to manage biological materials like DNA, proteins or cells in quantity units of nano-liters. Thus nanofluidics allow refined study of living matter and also allows manipulation of matter by handling components at nanoscale.  This technology is now used to physically sort sperm and eggs. This technology of using microfluidic technique to sort egg and sperm for sex selection is called flow cytometry. The sex-selected horses, cattle, sheep and pigs are better having best traits. In advanced techniques a microfluidic device that not only sorts sperm and eggs but also brings them together in a way that imitate natural reproduction. Such a technique also makes mass production of embryos cheap and reliable.

            A relatively new field of  Nano-Aquaculture incorporates nano technology in fish farming in order to increase production and diagnose any disease. Farming of fishes, crustaceans and molluscs is the world’s fastest increasing field of animal production especially in Asia. The growing rate of aquaculture production is more than 10% per year.  The fish farming industry is among the few initial industries to incorporate and commercialise nanotech products. 

            Nanotechnologies are now used to clean fish ponds using a technology called ‘NanoCheck.’ The NanoCheck technique uses a 40 nm particle of a lanthanum-based compound and this compound soaks up phosphates from the water, thus stoping algae development. NanoCheck is at present used in many commercial fish farms worldwide. This technique efficiently removes algae and prevents its further development. Moreover, this is a reasonable as compared to present day techniques.

Fish farming also induces the use of Nanocapsules containing DNA Nano-Vaccines for developing a system of  mass vaccination of fishes using ultrasound.  Nanocapsules are loaded with short strands of DNA and these capsules are then added to a fishpond . These are then absorbed into the cells of the fish. Then  Ultrasound mechanism is used to break the capsules which then releases the DNA . This release leads to an immune response from the fish due to the vaccination. This technology is at an introductory stage and is under testing.

Associated with fish-farming is use of  Iron Nanoparticles to fasten the growth of Fish. Studies have shown that  young carp and sturgeon have shown a faster rate of growth i.e. 30% and 24% respectively,  when they were fed on iron nanoparticles. The iron nanoparticles also boost up the health of fishes making them more productive.


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