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April 3rd, 2005

Call it systems biology

(Leroy Hood) proselytizes that nanotechnology will allow doctors to launch fleets of nano-sized machines that would measure, say, levels of 1,000 proteins and chemicals throughout the body.

They would sequence your genome and constantly monitor minute changes that might signal the onset of a disease, providing a forecast of what might afflict you in the future. "You could fit 100 of those little machines across the width of a hair," Hood says.

Prediction is great, he says, but ethically you also want prevention -- using the information collected by nanobots and other methods to design specific drugs to perturb or prevent disease networks. These custom-made drugs, long a promise of biotech, would weed out side effects and would offer a highly personalized medicine. "In the future, physicians will have to treat us as individuals," Hood says.


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