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The biocompatibility of Carbon nanotube MESH has been demonstrated, and is ready to be engineered into therapeutic delivery systems.
The biocompatibility of Carbon nanotube MESH has been demonstrated, and is ready to be engineered into therapeutic delivery systems. Such marvels promise to impact those stubborn medical conditions like the $150 Billion/year problem of Diabetes. This revelation was among the latest results in the area of biomedical applications of nanotechnology that were presented by Doctor David Loftus at the January monthly seminar of the IEEE San Francisco Bay Area Nanotechnology Council.
Dr. Loftus is a practicing Hematology Oncologist on the adjunct clinical faculty of the Stanford University School of Medicine. In addition, at NASA AMES Research Center he is affiliated with both the Center for Nanotechnology and the Live Sciences Division where he serves as the Medical Director of Hematology Oncology Projects. He is uniquely positioned to see the pieces of the promise coming together for the near term biomedical applications of nanotechnology.
He described how specially engineered CNT mesh, dubbed "Bucky Paper," was introduced into one of the body's most reactive environments without negative consequences. Construction of millimeter sized vehicles from rolls of this nano-engineered bucky paper are underway in order to house biochemicals or live cells that would otherwise be rejected by the body's defenses. Insulin delivery pumps, nerve growth guides, and chemotherapy torpedoes are examples of macro-sized vehicles with macro-sized payloads that bucky paper enables. The porous nature of the mesh allows nutrients to penetrate while shielding its cargo from the likes of antibodies, or a tumor's defenses. Equally possible are biosensors designed to detect specific protein sequences and facilitate rapid diagnosis. Biocompatible Bucky Paper then enables our well known nano-sized Carbon tubes to be conveniently transformed into a macro sized, and therefore useful, medical application tool.
Today, MDs are particularly frustrated over the lengthy diagnostic methodology which starts with a tissue biopsy and then adds lab microscopic analysis toward a later completed diagnosis. Subsequent treatments may include chemotherapy delivered indiscriminately to the entire circulatory system. But diseases like coronary artery disease, diabetes, and many cancers largely affect the body locally and have well defined biochemistries. Locally delivered nanotechnology engineered substances hold the promise of providing in-situ detection and diagnosis which then would be followed by localized treatment.
Pressed to guess at what and when these results will surface, Dr. Loftus volunteered that the "dumbest applications will be first." For example, the mechanical aspects of bucky paper could enable surface applications like wound healing to be realized within five to seven years. Therapeutic delivery may be up to ten years away. By his count there are at least 30 US companies now developing nanotechnology engineered encapsulation schemes. Given that innovation breeds innovation, biocompatible bucky paper may provide the boost needed to shorten the time tables toward the solution of many of today's medical challenges.
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