Interesting nanomedicine news is coming out of San Diego, as reported in the The San Diego Union Tribune.
Many scientists working with nanotechnology said they are most excited by how the field will transform the medical world.
They look to the body’s cells as an example of nature’s ability to build and operate small things.
“Nanotechnology is something that nature’s been doing for millennia,” Sailor said.
In this sense, an increased understanding of nanotechnology will expand what scientists know about nature, Roco added.
“We will learn more what ‘life’ means because life is organized at nano-scales,” he said.
When applied to treatment of diseases, such knowledge might allow researchers to target cancer cells with unprecedented precision, said Ruoslahti, the cancer researcher at the Burnham Institute.
Unlike conventional chemotherapy, the nano-particles that Ruoslahti is developing are projected to carry a small molecule that will attach itself – and its drug cargo – only to blood vessels that feed cancer tumors.
“As opposed to a drug, which is basically not smart, a nano-device can be designed so it is smart,” Ruoslahti said. “By performing many functions, it can really focus the treatment and improve its quality.”
The anticipated pervasiveness of nanotechnology in coming years has worried some people. Some scientists believe that newly made materials could become dangerous to human health and the environment.
These potential hazards will be a substantial topic at the American Chemical Society conference.
For instance, it’s unclear how toxic some nano-particles might be to human health. The large surface area of nano-particles, relative to their overall size, increases their toxicity when inhaled. They can penetrate deep into the lungs and may move to the brain, liver and other parts of the body.
Some worry that nano-particles in the wrong hands could be used as terrorist weapons.
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, part of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is participating in an international effort to better understand how nano-materials might influence human health. It aims to pinpoint and control potential risks.
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