Nano-scale delivery systems for medicine

Medical procedures are advancing rapidly through nanotechnology and the practice of medicine will evolve from diagnose and treating illnesses to a practice that is predictive, personalized, and pre-emptive. Will there be a medical future where permanent nano-robotic-devices (nanobots) roam the body to monitor, provide early diagnosis, and take action against diseases? The quick answer is yes.

And here is why: “Nanomedicine – the application of nanotechnology to medical procedures, medical device design, sensors, and other medical uses – is seen by researchers as an area of great promise, and to further research in the field, Hebrew University is partnering with the Cleveland Clinic to develop a virtual global Center for Transformative Nanomedicine.” These two medical centers are world leaders already and this relationship will benefit all humanity, not just Cleveland and Jerusalem.

Hebrew University is one of Israel’s biggest research institutions in the areas of biotechnology, nanotechnology, molecular modeling and drug development. The Cleveland Clinic has had a long history of innovation itself. Considered one of the top medical facilities in the US, the institution has pioneered many medical breakthroughs, including coronary artery bypass surgery (yes I did) and the first face transplant in the United States (no I didn’t).

Toby Cosgrove, MD, president and CEO of Cleveland Clinic said: “The new Center for Transformative Nanomedicine will ensure development of novel therapeutics to improve longevity, enhance patient well-being, make medical care more cost-effective, and provide dynamic solutions to global health concerns.” What the article failed to say was that this new medical advance will probably be done expeditiously (Murphy’s Law)

It is at the nano-matrix scale that the first signs of a disease appear. Did you know that your body contains a hundred trillion living cells? They communicate with each other through tiny messengers and when a cell is ‘sick’ they send out these biomarkers that are only a few nano-meters in size. It is these markers that are the molecular signature that diagnostic instruments can detect when nano particles (such as gold) are use to isolate a disease in the human body. These diagnostic procedures can be evaluated within hours instead of the traditional timeline of weeks. This offers personalized diagnostics while the patience is still in the office/hospital. It will probably be another decade before this type of equipment will be generally available because of its current cost. In the mean time, a CT scan is still a better option then invasive surgery.

Molecular machines, nanobots, will deliver precise medicines and will be the future for corrective cancer treatments. These nanobots will speed up drug delivery to precisely where they need to go – the bad cells only. BioSight’s, a medical technology start-up from Israel, has developed a technology that enables leukemia patients to avoid the worst effects of chemotherapy. According to Dr. Ruth Ben Yakar, “We believe a ‘trojan horse’ chemo technology will be effective in many other kinds of cancer as well. It’s a matter of finding the amino acid that a specific cancer is ‘allergic’ to, and packaging it in a structure that the cancer cell thinks contains material that strengthens it, while in reality it contains material that destroys it”. That packaging she referenced would be at nanoscale.”

There was movie back in the 1980’s called Fantastic Voyage. It is about a team of doctors that get shrunk down microscopically in a submarine and get injected into a sick man so that they can perform surgery internally to remove a blood clot from the man’s brain. What an incredible idea, and incredible movie effects for it’s time. Well, that science fiction is now a reality except humans won’t get shrunk down, but nanobots will be developed to do the same thing as the movie depicted. It seems like every technology I research was once just science fiction.


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