Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Nanotechnology in medicine

Technology has developed exponentially in the last 2 decades, we have seen the first mobile to the first tablet to robots. And now it gets better, nano scale surgery. 

What is -nano?

Nano means x10^-9. or times 10 to the power of -9.

It's hard to appreciate how tiny this is, so I'll turn it the other way. A nanometre is 0.000000001 meters! roughly the size of wavelength of visible light!

Down to business

This technology was created by a team in Montreal who changed the genetic material of a virus by performing surgery on viruses at a nanoscopic level!

The team used ultra short laser pulses directed on nano particles of gold to perform super precise surgery on the genes of viruses.

Nano-particles can also be engineered to deliver the drug straight to the cancer cells.

These are usually delivered in 2 batches. 

  • The first locates the tumour and sends a signal
  • The second homes in on the signal and delivers the therapeutic drug
Hate getting injections?

Doses administered by injections can soon be eliminated and replaced by medicine taken orally.

These involve nano-particles containing the medicine by passing the stomach lining because it's small enough. This means next time you need a flu immunisation, you can just take a pill!

The future

You may have seen films with nano robots, these are tiny tiny robots which work together on a minuscule scale.

Perhaps in the future we can take nano robots into our bodies to physically repair tissue, cells and any other bits which are damaged.
  • Potentially it has the capability to allow us to live forever, if our tissue degrades and robots fix it, there's nothing to stop us dying!
Now you may think you'll live forever, but this technology may not be in our lifetime, it will take years and years to develop, never mind the trials! 

However, we are developing a lot faster as a race, so maybe you will live long enough to live forever thanks to little robots, warning though, you won't survive getting hit by a bus.

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