Neurodegenerative disorders including Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, and stroke are rapidly increasing as population ages. The field of nanomedicine is rapidly expanding and promises revolutionary advances to the diagnosis and treatment of devastating human diseases. This paper provides an overview of novel nanomaterials that have potential to improve diagnosis and therapy of neurodegenerative disorders. Examples include liposomes, nanoparticles, polymeric micelles, block ionomer complexes, nanogels, and dendrimers that have been tested clinically or in experimental models for delivery of drugs, genes, and imaging agents. More recently discovered nanotubes and nanofibers are evaluated as promising scaffolds for neuroregeneration. Novel experimental neuroprotective strategies also include nanomaterials, such as fullerenes, which have antioxidant properties to eliminate reactive oxygen species in the brain to mitigate oxidative stress. Novel technologies to enable these materials to cross the blood brain barrier will allow efficient systemic delivery of therapeutic and diagnostic agents to the brain. Furthermore, by combining such nanomaterials with cell-based delivery strategies, the outcomes of neurodegenerative disorders can be greatly improved.
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