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What does nanotechnology bring to medicine?

A lot of buzz surrounds the promise of nanotechnology. By tweaking atoms and molecules, the technology can be used to create new materials and exert incredible control over the way matter interacts.

In medicine, researchers are already zeroing in on nanotechnology to deliver drugs. Stanford researchers are also advancing nanomedicine by using nanocrystal structures called quantum dots to image cancer markers.

A Medical News Today article offers several other examples of nanotechnology in medicine and discusses the risks and perceived risks. Catharine Paddock, PhD, writes:

Recent years have seen an explosion in the number of studies showing the variety of medical applications of nanotechnology and nanomaterials. In this article we have glimpsed just a small cross-section of this vast field. However, across the range, there exist considerable challenges, the greatest of which appear to be how to scale up production of materials and tools, and how to bring down costs and timescales.

But another challenge is how to quickly secure public confidence that this rapidly expanding technology is safe. And so far, it is not clear whether that is being done.

There are those who suggest concerns about nanotechnology may be over-exaggerated. They point to the fact that just because a material is nanosized, it does not mean it is dangerous, indeed nanoparticles have been around since the Earth was born, occurring naturally in volcanic ash and sea-spray, for example. As byproducts of human activity, they have been present since the Stone Age, in smoke and soot.

Previously: Stanford researchers develop a new biosensor chip that could speed drug development, Small materials could lead to big things at Stanford's new Nano Center and Stanford researcher discusses enhancing imaging methods with nanotechnology in NIH podcast
Image by St Stev

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