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Home > News > Nanotechnoglogy world: Nanomedicine offers new cures: Cutting-edge developments in nanotechnology offer new ways of preventing and treating diseases, including cancer

September 5th, 2011

Nanotechnoglogy world: Nanomedicine offers new cures: Cutting-edge developments in nanotechnology offer new ways of preventing and treating diseases, including cancer

The human body is a nanoscale engineer par excellence. Our cells push and pull billions of molecules around every second in order to grow, communicate with each other, attack invaders or heal after injury. Even though this frenzied buzz of activity is managed at a macro- (or system-) scale by key-role organs, including our brain, it always relies on the rules of physics and chemistry, which are coded within these biomolecules, that apply at the nanoscale. However, we usually give this feat of automatic engineering a more familiar name: biology.

Interpreting, replicating and modulating our biology in a bid to make our lives healthier and happier is one of the aims of the modern nanoscientist. One way of doing this is to detect the possible development of disease: nanoscience will provide better tools to look for the molecular clues that signal potential problems before they occur.

Engineers at Ohio State University, for example, have invented polymeric nanoparticles stuffed with even smaller particles of semiconductors (called "quantum dots") that shine with different colours depending on the molecules they are attached to. The resulting complex nanoparticles can glow red, yellow and green, allowing scientists to track the movements of, say, a range of molecules in a cancer cell under a microscope. Scientists could use these nanoparticles to observe the development of a cancer at the molecular level, giving them key insights into how to stop or treat the disease.


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