This issue of NanoNews-Now covers Nanomedicine. Editor Rocky Rawstern interviews Robert A. Freitas Jr., Author, Nanomedicine Vol.'s I and IIA, and Adriana Vela, Founder & Chair, NanoBioNexus.

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Robert A. Freitas Jr.
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Robert A. Freitas Jr.
Robert A. Freitas Jr.
Author, Nanomedicine Vol.'s I and IIA,
Senior Research Fellow, Institute for Molecular Manufacturing.

Rocky Rawstern - Editor Nanotechnology Now -
Rocky Rawstern
Editor, Nanotechnology Now



Robert A. Freitas Jr., J.D., published the first detailed technical design study of a medical nanorobot ever published in a peer-reviewed mainstream biomedical journal and is the author of Nanomedicine, the first book-length technical discussion of the medical applications of nanotechnology and medical nanorobotics. Volume I was published in October 1999 by Landes Bioscience while Freitas was a Research Fellow at the Institute for Molecular Manufacturing (IMM) in Palo Alto, California. Freitas published Volume IIA in October 2003 with Landes Bioscience while serving as a Research Scientist at Zyvex Corp., a nanotechnology company headquartered in Richardson, Texas during 2000-2004. Freitas is now completing Nanomedicine Volumes IIB and III and is also consulting on diamond mechanosynthesis and molecular assembler design as Senior Research Fellow at IMM.

Molecular nanotechnology has been defined as the three-dimensional positional control of molecular structure to create materials and devices to molecular precision. The human body is comprised of molecules, hence the availability of molecular nanotechnology will permit dramatic progress in human medical services. More than just an extension of "molecular medicine," nanomedicine will employ molecular machine systems to address medical problems, and will use molecular knowledge to maintain and improve human health at the molecular scale. Nanomedicine will have extraordinary and far-reaching implications for the medical profession, for the definition of disease, for the diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions including aging, and ultimately for the improvement and extension of natural human biological structure and function.

"Nanomedicine is the preservation and improvement of human health using molecular tools and molecular knowledge of the human body." —Robert A. Freitas Jr.

Our interview:

NN: Does our current understanding of nanorobot/human tissue biocompatibility confirm any showstoppers, as far as nanorobot surface materials? Does it suggest any preferred materials?

There are no confirmed showstoppers. Rather, there is simply a large range of possible surface materials and textures to choose from, for specific applications. Nanomedical implants and instrumentalities will usually require surfaces of engineered bioadhesivity. The issue of biocompatibility arises whenever any foreign substance – be it natural materials, therapeutic cells, a transplanted organ, an artificial implant, or a medical nanorobot – is placed inside the human body for medical purposes. The most general definition of biocompatibility is: “the ability of a material to perform with an appropriate host response in a specific application.” Depending on the nanorobot mission, the appropriate host response may require adhesivity, nonadhesivity, or time-variable adhesivity between the nanorobot surface and biological tissues.

Sometimes stickiness is unwanted. The nonspecific adsorption of blood proteins on nanorobot surfaces could lead to clinical difficulties such as thrombosis and unwanted protein-mediated recognition interactions such as cell-nanorobot and nanorobot-nanorobot adhesion (aggregation). Such interactions could not only result in injury to the patient but also inactivation of the nanorobots with a subsequent failure of the nanomedical mission. So it will usually be desirable to suppress protein-mediated stickiness of individual nanorobots, to allow unfettered nanorobot mobility and freedom of action within the human body while avoiding particle aggregation among nanorobots. We suspect that nanodevice surfaces can be designed for maximum proteophobicity because numerous partially proteophobic molecular surfaces are already known. Another very effective way to create nonadhesive nanorobot surfaces may be biomimetic coatings, such as the artificial glycocalyx approach pioneered by Roger Marchant and colleagues at Case Western Reserve University.

On the other hand, sometimes selective stickiness is just what you want. In many nanomedical applications the nanorobot must exhibit a strong affinity for the specific biological tissue with which it is designed to interact. For example, diamondoid bone implant should show good osseointegration, preferably with bone tissue infiltrating some portion of the foreign diamondoid structure and with cells tightly adherent to the implant. Entry into the body by free nanorobots traversing the gut might be assisted using mucosal-binding attachments. It may also be desirable for the surfaces of artificial nanorobotic organs to encourage attachment, migration and coating by certain types of cells. It is already well-known that a variety of simple surface features such as pores, tunnels, pegs, pillars, and grooves can induce cell motion or growth in certain directions, or can facilitate cell attachment. Precise chemical functionalization of the nanorobot surface augments these effects.

In more complex applications where specific or nonspecific adhesive interactions are needed during only one portion of the nanomedical mission, or where alternative specific adhesivities are desired during different mission segments or at different times or physical locations during the mission, it may be necessary to actively regulate the adhesive characteristics of the nanorobot surface. A sorboregulatory surface would be an active metamorphic surface that allows the nanorobot to alter the character, number density, or spatial pattern of its display ligands or surface receptors in real time, to encourage or discourage the adhesion of specific biomolecular species. Such a sorboregulatory surface will enable in situ regulation of the selective binding characteristics of surfaces, in response either to commands by medical personnel or to programmed procedures executed by an onboard nanocomputer that is making choices driven by sensor data, predetermined conditions, or timing schedules.

While you were reading this sentence, a dozen people just died, worldwide. There. Another dozen people have perished. I think this is an outrage. I want to tell you why I think so, and what nanomedicine can do to help.

Each year, we allow a destruction of knowledge equivalent to three Libraries of Congress with an average value of about $2 million dollars for each human life lost. The solution: "dechronification"--nanomedicine tools that can arrest biological aging and reduce your biological age.
From Death is an Outrage, by Robert A. Freitas Jr.

NN: In NMIIA, you state "It is believed that one of the most common building materials for medical nanorobots will ultimately be diamond or diamondoid substances." What biocompatibility issues remain to be addressed regarding diamondoid nanorobots and human tissues, and how far along are scientists in addressing them?

There is relatively little literature on actual experimental results for protein adsorption on diamond. More work is urgently needed. A central purpose for writing Nanomedicine Vol. IIA: Biocompatibility (NMIIA) was not to provide final answers, but rather to begin asking the right questions and to point to further essential research that needs to be undertaken, in the context of medical nanorobot design, testing, and (eventually) clinical implementation.

Atomically-precise diamond surfaces might be engineered to be highly resistant to protein adsorption (1). This does not exclude the engineering of surface chemical functionalization with desired spatial orderings, which might be enhanced on an atomically precise, mechanically stiff diamond surface template. Yes, protein will indeed stick to diamond. On the other hand, diamond surfaces or diamond particles are commonly employed as the experimental null control material because diamond is so (relatively) biologically inert compared to other materials. For instance, the Tang study on fibrinogen adhesion used CVD diamond with poorly atomically-characterized surface topography and chemical functionalization. Protein adhesion to near-atomically smooth diamond surfaces remains to be investigated (2) and should be done as soon as possible.

For longer-term nanorobotic missions, or for semi-permanent implants, it seems likely that various classes of coatings (atop the diamondoid surface) may be useful in extending nanorobot biocompatibility in vivo. Grafted PEG coatings are one approach (3) which might well lead to success for short-duration medical nanorobot missions. Other approaches also seem promising, such as the artificial glycocalyx (4), lipid-based techniques (5) and stealth liposomes (6) (one interesting experiment involved 75-nm Hb-functionalized diamond particles encapsulated inside liposomes; (7)), covalently-attached camouflaging proteins (8), full encapsulation inside ghost-cell-derived membranes such as nanoerythrosomes (9), immune evasion systems (10), and so forth. Chemical functionalization is clearly a major issue in biocompatible nanorobot design, leading to clinical applications. That's why substantial portions of NMIIA Chapter 15.2 are devoted to this crucial topic.

I'd encourage everyone to examine NMIIA Chapter 15.2 (freely available online) and Section 15.3.1 on diamond biocompatibility, then consider initiating research aimed at investigating and improving biocompatibility on diamondoid surfaces. Biocompatibility is a complex and vital aspect of nanomedicine that urgently deserves more research attention and more research funding.

In just a few decades physicians could be sending tiny machines into our bodies to diagnose and cure disease. These nanodevices will be able to repair tissues, clean blood vessels and airways, transform our physiological capabilities, and even potentially counteract the aging process.

It is the year 2031, and the age of advanced nanomedicine has arrived. A young man arrives at his physician's office with a mild fever, nasal congestion, discomfort and a cough. The physician pulls from her pocket a lightweight, handheld device resembling a pocket calculator. She unsnaps from it a cordless, self-sterilizing, pencil-sized probe and inserts it into the patient's mouth as if it were a tongue depressor. On the tip of the probe are billions of molecular assay receptors, mounted on hundreds of self-guiding retractile stalks. Each receptor is sensitive to the chemical signature of a specific kind of bacterium or virus. "Ahhh," says the patient, and a few seconds later a three-dimensional, color-coded map of his throat appears on the display panel of the device. Beneath the map scroll columns of data, revealing the unique molecular signature of a known and unwelcome bacterial pathogen.

With the diagnosis complete, the infectious microorganism can be exterminated. No need for antihistamines, cough drops and a week-long course of antibiotics. The physician keeps several generic classes of nanorobots in her office for just such a circumstance. Using a desktop appliance in her office, she programs billions of nanorobots to find, recognize and destroy the particular microbial strain. The nanomachines are suspended in a carrier fluid that the patient inhales into his lungs, after which the mobile devices march down the patient's throat, propelled on tiny legs. Following a search pattern, the nanorobots ingest and destroy the harmful bacteria they encounter using mechanical and chemical phagocytosis. The patient feels nothing: nanorobots are the size of bacteria, which constantly crawl on and inside the body without ever being noticed. After several minutes, the physician activates an acoustic homing beacon to guide the nanorobots back into the patient's mouth, where she retrieves them through a collection port on the tip of the homing device. A further survey with the original diagnostic probe reveals no evidence of the pathogen.
From Robots in the bloodstream: the promise of nanomedicine, by Robert A. Freitas Jr.

NN: What are some of the myths surrounding nanorobot biocompatibility, and how have they been refuted?

There are many examples. To pick just one: Some commentators have expressed concern that for therapeutic nanorobots to exit the bloodstream through the vascular endothelium to gain access to the subendothelial tissue cell population, those nanorobots must necessarily cause inflammation because this is the common result when viral or bacterial pathogens undertake the same journey to reach layers of cells further away from the bloodstream. But engineered nanorobots are not limited to behaviors extant in biology. The mechanics of artificial diapedesis, histonatation, ECM (extracellular matrix) brachiation, tissue transit, intercellular passage, cytopenetration, and in cyto locomotion by medical nanorobots have been described elsewhere (11), along with a comprehensive discussion of nanorobotic biocompatibility including mechanocompatibility during vascular surface transit, ECM transit, cytopenetration and intracellular navigation (12). There are numerous specific proposals to avoid or suppress inflammation reactions that might be caused by various nanorobot activities (13).

Another oft-cited potential problem with the biocompatibility of medical nanorobots is the likelihood that the body's natural defenses, particularly white cells, will attack and engulf the nanorobots as soon as they are injected. Of course diamond-based nanorobots will not be digestible, but being ingested by a white cell (aka. "phagocytosis") can interfere with the medical mission and can lead to other problems if large numbers of nanorobots are involved. Phagocytosis and foreign-body granulomatous reaction are major issues for medical nanorobots intended to remain inside the body for extended durations. Here is a case of a mythical showstopper that is a perfectly legitimate problem -- but one that we believe may be overcome by proper engineering design. An extensive discussion of the phagocytosis of nanorobots (14), including details of all steps in the phagocytic process and possible techniques for phagocyte avoidance and escape by medical nanorobots at each step (15), appears in NMIIA. Phagocyte evasion protocols must be incorporated into nanorobot design, as was pointed out in the first medical nanorobot design paper ever published in the mainstream medical literature (16), back in 1998.

The very earliest nanotechnology-based biomedical systems may be used to help resolve many difficult scientific questions that remain. They may also be employed to assist in the brute-force analysis of the most difficult three-dimensional structures among the 100,000-odd proteins of which the human body is comprised, or to help ascertain the precise function of each such protein. But much of this effort should be complete within the next 20-30 years because the reference human body has a finite parts list, and these parts are already being sequenced, geometered and archived at an ever-increasing pace. Once these parts are known, then the reference human being as a biological system is at least physically specified to completeness at the molecular level. Thereafter, nanotechnology-based discovery will consist principally of examining a particular sick or injured patient to determine how he or she deviates from molecular reference structures, with the physician then interpreting these deviations in light of their possible contribution to, or detraction from, the general health and the explicit preferences of the patient.

In brief, nanomedicine will employ molecular machine systems to address medical problems, and will use molecular knowledge to maintain human health at the molecular scale.
From Nanomedicine , by Robert A. Freitas Jr.

NN: Given what we know today, what are some of the most likely early uses for nanorobots?

With the proviso that "early" means the 2020s (when we can build complex diamondoid nanorobots equipped with onboard computers and sensors), the first uses will probably be ex vivo diagnostics and dermatological applications, including cosmetics, because the regulatory hurdles will be fewer. This might be followed by computer/sensor-controlled targeted drug delivery nanorobots such as pharmacytes or respirocyte-class (artificial red blood cell) devices. More intrusive medical nanorobots with increasingly sophisticated behaviors, such as motile microbivores (artificial white blood cells), will come later and will be highly regulated.

Robert A. Freitas Jr., J.D., has degrees in physics, psychology, and law, and has written nearly 100 technical papers, book chapters, or popular articles on a diverse set of scientific, engineering, and legal topics. He co-edited the 1980 NASA feasibility analysis of self-replicating space factories and in 1996 authored the first detailed technical design study of a medical nanorobot ever published in a peer-reviewed mainstream biomedical journal.

Most recently, Freitas is the author of Nanomedicine, the first book-length technical discussion of the potential medical applications of molecular nanotechnology and medical nanorobotics, freely available online at

Volume I was published in October 1999 by Landes Bioscience while Freitas was a Research Fellow at the Institute for Molecular Manufacturing (IMM) in Palo Alto, California. Freitas published Volume IIA in October 2003 with Landes Bioscience while serving as a Research Scientist at Zyvex Corp., (a nanotechnology company headquartered in Richardson, Texas) during 2000-2004.

Freitas is now completing Nanomedicine Volumes IIB and III and is also consulting on molecular assembler design as Senior Research Fellow at IMM.

"The most important applications of machine-phase nanotechnology will be in medicine. Not only will human health, comfort, safety, and pleasure be vastly improved, but nanomedicine could dramatically extend the lifespan of the individual human being and greatly expand the possibilities of the human form. I'm trying to help lay the technical foundations for the future field of medical nanorobotics by conducting theoretical analyses of specific nanomedical systems and by writing a 4-volume technical book series that looks at all relevant issues including basic engineering capabilities, biocompatibility, systems and operations of medical nanorobots, clinical applications, and ethical issues."

Other references:

Foresight Nanotech Institute Nanomedicine Page
Nanomedicine Art Gallery


(1) Robert A. Freitas Jr., Nanomedicine, Volume IIA: Biocompatibility. 15.3.1 Biocompatibility of Diamond, Landes Bioscience, Georgetown, TX, 2003
(2) Robert A. Freitas Jr., Nanomedicine, Volume IIA: Biocompatibility. Protein Adsorption on Diamond Surfaces, Landes Bioscience, Georgetown, TX, 2003
(3) Robert A. Freitas Jr., Nanomedicine, Volume IIA: Biocompatibility. Nonadhesive Nanorobot Surfaces, Landes Bioscience, Georgetown, TX, 2003
(4) Robert A. Freitas Jr., Nanomedicine, Volume IIA: Biocompatibility. Nonadhesive Nanorobot Surfaces, Landes Bioscience, Georgetown, TX, 2003
(5) Robert A. Freitas Jr., Nanomedicine, Volume IIA: Biocompatibility. Nonadhesive Nanorobot Surfaces, Landes Bioscience, Georgetown, TX, 2003
(6) Robert A. Freitas Jr., Nanomedicine, Volume IIA: Biocompatibility. Nonadhesive Nanorobot Surfaces, Landes Bioscience, Georgetown, TX, 2003
(7) Robert A. Freitas Jr., Nanomedicine, Volume IIA: Biocompatibility. References 1400-1499, Landes Bioscience, Georgetown, TX, 2003
(8) Robert A. Freitas Jr., Nanomedicine, Volume IIA: Biocompatibility. Nonadhesive Nanorobot Surfaces, Landes Bioscience, Georgetown, TX, 2003, Robert A. Freitas Jr., Nanomedicine, Volume IIA: Biocompatibility. Immunoglobulins (Antibodies), Landes Bioscience, Georgetown, TX, 2003, Robert A. Freitas Jr., Nanomedicine, Volume IIA: Biocompatibility. Immunosuppression, Tolerization, and Camouflage, Landes Bioscience, Georgetown, TX, 2003
(9) Robert A. Freitas Jr., Nanomedicine, Volume IIA: Biocompatibility. References 5000-5099, Landes Bioscience, Georgetown, TX, 2003
(10) Robert A. Freitas Jr., Nanomedicine, Volume IIA: Biocompatibility. Immune Evasion, Landes Bioscience, Georgetown, TX, 2003
(11) Robert A. Freitas Jr., Nanomedicine, Volume IIA: Biocompatibility. 9.4.4 Histonatation, Landes Bioscience, Georgetown, TX, 2003
(12) Robert A. Freitas Jr., Nanomedicine, Volume IIA: Biocompatibility. 15.5 Nanorobot Mechanocompatibility, Landes Bioscience, Georgetown, TX, 2003
(13) Robert A. Freitas Jr., Nanomedicine, Volume IIA: Biocompatibility15.2.4 General and Nonspecific Inflammation, Landes Bioscience, Georgetown, TX, 2003
(14) Robert A. Freitas Jr., Nanomedicine, Volume IIA: Biocompatibility. 15.4 Systemic Nanorobot Distribution and Phagocytosis, Landes Bioscience, Georgetown, TX, 2003
(15) Robert A. Freitas Jr., Nanomedicine, Volume IIA: Biocompatibility. Phagocyte Avoidance and Escape, Landes Bioscience, Georgetown, TX, 2003
(16) Robert A. Freitas Jr., Nanomedicine, Volume I: Basic Capabilities. Technical Works on Medical Nanorobotics and Nanotechnology, Landes Bioscience, Georgetown, TX, 1999 (As seen at the Foresight Nanotech Institute website)

Rocky Rawstern interviews AdrianaVela of NanoBioNexus

AdrianaVela, Founder & Chair, NanoBioNexus
Adriana Vela
Founder & Chair, NanoBioNexus

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NN: Please talk a bit about NanoBioNexus, its mission and goals.

NanoBioNexus (NBN) is a non-profit corporation dedicated to building awareness and understanding of the activities in nanotechnology and serve as a catalyst for fostering business opportunities, in particular, in the nanobiotechnology arena. The organization just completed its first year of service and we celebrated with a special NBN anniversary gala at the Salk Institute that was attended by 150 of Southern California's leading thinkers and business professionals.

NBN is headquartered in San Diego, one of the nation's richest seedbeds of healthcare and biotech innovation and commercialization. We are the only San Diego organization exclusively dedicated to facilitating education, partnering and investment opportunities for nanobiotechnology.

Led by a seasoned team of scientists and business professionals, NanoBioNexus offers affordable education and networking in an open and congenial environment. NBN serves as a catalyst for forming relationships and exchanging ideas among scientists, entrepreneurs, technology experts and venture capitalists meeting in a small, personal setting. Our monthly forums were well-attended and our programs well-respected this past year.

The respect NanoBioNexus gained in the first full year of operations is validated both by the continuing support and by the new sponsorships we have been awarded for the upcoming year. I'm honored that Morrison and Foerster LLP renewed for the second year as a founding sponsor at the premium level. Additional sponsorships have come from Duke Scientific Corporation, Buchanan Ingersoll LLP including attorneys from Burns Doane Swecker & Mathis, Rudolph and Sletten, Veracast, Summit Financial Group, BayCreative, Biotech Vendor Services, Inc., ScienceMedia and others.

My executive team has been hard at work for the 2005-2006 series of forums and we will soon announce our slate of upcoming speakers and topics. As we enter our second year of operation, our goals are to continue designing educational and networking programs and expand our reach into surrounding communities and beyond. We will also begin doing more in-depth research into emerging companies developing applications that leverage the unique systems and devices containing novel properties and functions whose creation is only possible at the atomic and molecular scale.

NN: How are advances in nanotechnology enabling biotechnology?

Nanotechnology is an interdisciplinary science that combines chemistry, physics, biology and mechanical engineering. Nanotechnology is generating substantial new insights into how biological systems work and this will lead to the design and creation of entirely new classes of nanofabricated devices and systems. Nanotechnology facilitates new methods for scientific exploration thus increasing the understanding of how biological systems work and accelerating our ability to address diseases at the cellular level.

NN: What are a few of the most important advances in biotech that are due to our understanding of nanoscale phenomena?

There is still much that we do not yet understand about new nanoscale structures and materials. Their effect on biological systems and the environment are being studies by many research groups around the world to assess potential risks and effects of these new structures. This is a complex task because the properties of nanomaterials (particles, dots, tubes, etc), vary with the chemical nature, sizes and interactions. I'm personally very glad that this work is being done.

Having said that, I'm enthusiastic and hopeful for all that nanotechnology brings to biotech. Of the many advances, an important one is cancer research. With the help from NCI (National Cancer Institute) funding, a growing number of nanotech projects are being created to help address cancer at all levels. For example, enhanced imaging can improve earlier detection and also improved diagnosis. Treatment is also improved through precise, accurate, and timely drug delivery, and the ability to evaluate efficacy is also enhanced. This will help accelerate new research platforms and get us closer to dealing with it more effectively.

Areas of tissue repair, such as bone, muscle or nerve and tissue reengineering are also exciting to me.

NN: How do you define "nanobiotechnology" and "nanomedicine?"

I define nanobiotechnology as the application of nanotechnology to areas of biotech such as bioanalysis and diagnostics, drug discovery and therapeutics, as well as implantable medical devices. Nanomedicine is highly specific medical intervention at the molecular scale for curing disease or repairing damaged tissue.

NN: Please talk about some of the nanobiotech companies and research institutions that NanoBioNexus matched up, the technologies they are working on, and what you expect to come of the partnership.

NanoBioNexus facilitates an environment whereby members from the research, business and investment communities representing various institutions and companies can network, share ideas and discover ways they can collaborate. Other than being able to share information about companies we've learned about, our organization is not currently staffed in such a way that we can track results from such dialogues. One of our goals is to more actively track promising technologies all the way to commercialization. This will be achievable through proper funding and sponsorships.

NN: What is the most important point that nanobiotech companies and research institutions need to consider prior to forming a partnership?

As an enabling technology, nanotechnology has millions of potential applications, most of which have not even been thought of yet. This can be a double-edge sword in that the original (potential) applications of the technology may be set aside when product-development partners use the technology in ways that differ from the original vision. So the point is: don't get discouraged if your technology doesn't end up being used as you envisioned.

NN: What is your background and interest in this field?

As a technology professional, I spent years understanding trends and building markets for high tech. I saw the trend towards miniaturization many years ago. Couple this with major breakthroughs in Life Sciences through the use of technology (i.e. Human Genome Project) and it was natural for my interest and attention to turn to the convergent space between nanotech and biotech.

Today, I'm driven to understand this space because I ultimately represent many of the same people who are my target audience. These are the non-scientist, the business professional, private investor, and consumer of medical/healthcare services and products. I want to know how nanotechnology is going to impact medical technology, what types of innovations I can expect (short term and long), which investment opportunities I can leverage, and how I can improve my business and professional services for my clients.

NN: On your web site you ask the question "Why is it important to pay attention to nanotechnology?" In response, what do you tell prospective partners?

Ultimately, the answer to this question is different for every individual. In general, I make the point that nanotechnology is a transformative technology not so different from the locomotive in the 18th century, electricity in the 20th century, and the internet in recent times. From a materials standpoint, nanotechnology introduces novel properties and functions, so it is not that different from when plastic first arrived on the scene. Back in 1907, Nobody could foresee the plethora of uses of plastics. With such capacity and potential, it is important to pay attention to nanotechnology and understand how that might affect you from the health, environment, and business or investment opportunity perspectives.

Adriana Vela is the Development Director for BioAgenda Programs, an independent think-tank focused on addressing the defining issues of the biotech industry through a series of issues and policy forums ( Adriana has also been at the forefront of the nanobiotechnology sector and was instrumental in building and shaping the NanoBioConvergence non-profit organization in Silicon Valley from the ground up.

As a professional marketing consultant with Adjunct, LLC (, Ms. Vela has assisted start-up companies in securing funding, doing market validation, customer acquisition and go-to-market strategies. She has held various marketing and business development management positions at Fortune 100 companies such as Hewlett-Packard, Compaq Computers, Tandem Computer, as well as early-stage start-ups in the software and biotech industries. Adriana has been the executive sponsor for over 15 international road show events designed and tailored for various audiences as part of her sales turnaround strategy or market development strategy with specialization in Latin America. Adriana has also brought dozens of technology products to market, has managed multi-million dollar corporate initiatives, and has been a dynamic public speaker with engagements worldwide. Adriana created the strategy and was the driving force behind a multi-company standards initiative leading to the creation of a new PCI SIG-sanctioned industry standard called Hot-Plug PCI, forever changing the architectural requirements of computers. She holds a Bachelors of Business Administration from the University of Texas in Austin and has served on other decision-making boards.


The industries that nanotechnology will likely have a disruptive effect on in the near term include the following:
(Amounts are Billions of US Dollars)




Long Term Care








U.S. Chemical












Hospitality / Restaurant


US Insurance




Corrosion Removal


US Steel




Diet Supplement


















Blue Jeans




Fluorescent Tagging

Figures are from:

The Next Big Thing Is Really Small: How Nanotechnology Will Change the Future of Your Business. J Uldrich & D Newberry. March 2003
Read our review

NANO - John Robert Marlow. Hardcover January 2004
Our Review
The Superswarm Interview
The Superswarm Option
Nanoveau - This column will cover the science, the speculation, and (occasionally) the politics of nanotechnology and related topics. If you want to know what nanotech is about, and how and why it will change everything we know-Nanoveau is for you.

Got Nanotechnology?
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Our Molecular Future: How Nanotechnology, Robotics, Genetics, and Artificial Intelligence Will Transform Our World.
Douglas Mulhall, March 2002
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To help meet the goal of eliminating suffering and death due to cancer, the National Cancer Institute (NCI), part of the National Institutes of Health, is engaged in efforts to harness the power of nanotechnology to radically change the way we diagnose, treat and prevent cancer.

The NCI Alliance for Nanotechnology in Cancer is a comprehensive, systematized initiative encompassing the public and private sectors, designed to accelerate the application of the best capabilities of nanotechnology to cancer.

Currently, scientists are limited in their ability to turn promising molecular discoveries into benefits for cancer patients. Nanotechnology can provide the technical power and tools that will enable those developing new diagnostics, therapeutics, and preventives to keep pace with today’s explosion in knowledge.

Mission: NCI Alliance for Nanotechnology in Cancer

What if doctors could search out and destroy the very first cancer cells that would otherwise have caused a tumor to develop in the body? What if a broken part of a cell could be removed and replaced with a miniature biological machine? What if pumps the size of molecules could be implanted to deliver life-saving medicines precisely when and where they are needed? These scenarios may sound unbelievable, but they are the long-term goals of the NIH Roadmap's Nanomedicine initiative that we anticipate will yield medical benefits as early as 10 years from now.

National Institute of Health - Nanomedicine

To help meet the Challenge Goal of eliminating suffering and death from cancer by 2015, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) is engaged in a concerted effort to harness the power of nanotechnology (1) to radically change the way we diagnose, treat, and prevent cancer. Over the past 5 years, the NCI has taken the lead in integrating nanotechnology into biomedical research through a variety of programs. The results of these initial funding efforts have demonstrated clearly that melding nanotechnology and cancer research and development efforts will have a profound, disruptive effect on how we diagnose, treat, and prevent cancer.

The application of nanotechnology to cancer research could not come at a more opportune time given the recent exponential increase in our understanding of the process of how cancer develops. It is my belief that nanomaterials and nanodevices will play a critical and unique role in turning that knowledge into clinically useful advances that detect and interact with the cancer cell and its surroundings early in this process. By doing so, we will change for the better the way we diagnose, treat, and ultimately prevent cancer.

—Andrew C. von Eschenbach, M.D., Director, National Cancer Institute, Message From The Director, NCI Alliance for Nanotechnology in Cancer

Like primitive engineers faced with advanced technology, medicine must ‘catch up' with the technology level of the human body before it can become really effective. What is the technology level? Since the human body is basically an extremely complex system of interacting molecules (i.e., a molecular machine), the technology required to truly understand and repair the body is molecular machine technology. A natural consequence of [our achieving] this level of technology will be the ability to analyze and repair the human body as completely and effectively as we can repair any conventional machine today."

—Dr. Brian Wowk, “Cell Repair Technology.” See also Nanotechnology Art Gallery - Brian Wowk

Imagine having bones woven with a fabric such that one could fall out of a building and walk away. Imagine that in the event of a fire, microscopic vessels just ten billionths of a meter wide, pressurized with 1,000 atmospheres of pure oxygen could sense oxygen levels in the blood and provide hours of respiratory requirements for the body. Imagine medical nanites being injected into the bloodstream, consuming atherosclerotic plaques in the walls of the blood vessels; repairing cell damage caused by cancer. Or imagine nanomouthwashes that could eliminate gum disease and tooth decay - nanomachines acting as security guards and attacking any foreign entity in the body. Sounds like something from a science fiction movie? Absolutely not. Welcome to the world of nanomedicine.

—Albert Tsai Nanomedicine – The Medical Revolution (PDF)

What if doctors had tiny tools that could search out and destroy the very first cancer cells of a tumor developing in the body? What if a cell's broken part could be removed and replaced with a functioning miniature biological machine? Or what if molecule-sized pumps could be implanted in sick people to deliver life-saving medicines precisely where they are needed? These scenarios may sound unbelievable, but they are the ultimate goals of nanomedicine, a cutting-edge area of biomedical research that seeks to use nanotechnology tools to improve human health.

National Human Genome Research Institute - Nanomedicine Fact Sheet

What is the promise of nanotechnology for cancer detection and therapy?

The National Cancer Institute (NCI) envisions that over the next five years nanotechnology will result in significant, and perhaps paradigm-changing, advances in early detection, molecular imaging, assessment of therapeutic efficacy, targeted and multifunctional therapeutics, and prevention and control of cancer.

Nanotechnology offers a wealth of tools that are providing cancer researchers with new and innovative ways to diagnose and treat cancer. Already, nanotechnology has been used to create new and improved ways to find small tumors through imaging. Nanoscale drug delivery devices are being developed to deliver anticancer therapeutics specifically to tumors. Work is currently being done to move these new research tools into clinical practice.

NCI Alliance for Nanotechnology in Cancer

Imagine if cancer could become trivial.

—Naomi Halas, Nanotechnology Now, Best Discoveries 2003

Why is nanotechnology an important tool for cancer research?

There are several reasons that nanotechnology could help transform cancer research and clinical approaches to cancer care:

  • Most biological processes, including those processes leading to cancer, occur at the nanoscale. For cancer researchers, the ability of nanoscale devices to easily access the interior of a living cell affords the opportunity for unprecedented gains on both clinical and basic research frontiers.
  • The ability to simultaneously interact with multiple critical proteins and nucleic acids at the molecular level will provide a better understanding of the complex regulatory and signaling patterns that govern the behavior of cells in their normal state as well as the transformation into malignant cells.
  • Nanotechnology provides a platform for integrating research in proteomics -- the study of the structure and function of proteins, including the way they work and interact with each other inside cells -- with other scientific investigations into the molecular nature of cancer.
NCI Alliance for Nanotechnology in Cancer

A small vanguard of medical explorers is exploiting the tools of nanotechnology to manipulate biomolecules that regulate life and death, illness and health. The key to these efforts is that researchers are learning how to tailor devices and materials on the scale of billionths of a meter, thereby acquiring the ability to engineer structures and machines no bigger than biomolecules such as DNA. They're finally playing on the size scale of biology itself. And that means they may be able to design tiny tools to safely and effectively fix the nanoscopic machinery of illness, just as a mechanic works on a car's engine using tools that are on the same scale as the engine. This may sound like science fiction--and until recently it was--but it's reaching the verge of possibility because teams of doctors and scientists are combining advances from biology and chemistry with the synthesis and fabrication tools from chemical engineering, even the microchip industry.

Iranian Site of NanoMedicine

The convergence of recent advances in nanotechnology with modern biology and medicine has created the new research domain of nanobiotechnology. The use of nanobiotechnology in medicine is termed nanomedicine. Nanomedicine research includes the development of diagnostics for rapid monitoring, targeted cancer therapies, localized drug delivery, improved cell material interactions, scaffolds for tissue engineering, and gene delivery systems. Successful research and development in nanomedicine where ultimately patients can benefit from these new technologies require the interaction of a multitude of disciplines including material science and engineering, cellular biology and clinical translational research.

Center for Nanomedicine and Cellular Delivery (CNCD) at the University of Maryland

From Our Molecular Future: How Nanotechnology, Robotics, Genetics, and Artificial Intelligence Will Transform Our World, by Douglas Mulhall:

  • What happens to the monetary system when everyone is able to satisfy his own basic material needs at very low cost?
  • How would we use cash when digital manufacturing makes it impossible to differentiate a counterfeit bill or coin from the real thing?
  • What happens to fiscal policy when digital information, moving at light speed, is the major commodity?
  • How fast will monetary cycles move compared to, say, the ten- or twenty-year cycles of the late twentieth century, when products and patents go out of date in a matter of months instead of years?
  • What happens when we don't have to worry about trade or social services for our basic needs, because most of what we need is provided locally with digital manufacturing, and the biggest trade is in information?
  • How do we control the excesses of the ultrarich, the overabundance of the molecular assembler economy, and the challenge to intellectual property laws created by intelligent, inventive machines?
  • What happens if half of all jobs are made redundant every decade?
  • What happens to the War on Drugs when there's no import, export, or transport of contraband because drugs can be manufactured in a desktop machine using pirated software downloaded from the Internet?
  • What happens to democratic controls when individuals can get as rich as small governments in a year or so?
  • What's the relevance of insurance if many things are replaceable at very low capital cost, but liabilities from software are potentially unlimited?
  • How should organized labor react when molecular assemblers and intelligent robots eliminate most manufacturing jobs?
  • What is the nature of work going to be?
  • What happens to land prices when an individual can build a tropical farm under a bubble in North Dakota, and get there from New York in an hour?
  • What happens when everyone can go everywhere, whenever they want, and work from wherever they want?

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Useful Links

NCI Alliance for Nanotechnology in Cancer

NIH Nanotechnology and Nanoscience Information

Nanomedicine - Funded Research

UCLA chemists create nano valve

Cure aging with nanobots?

Nanobot Surgery

Wiring the Brain at the Nanoscale

Nanotubes inspire new technique for healing broken bones

Nanomedicine's Promise Is Anything but Tiny

Nano Cancer Fix (with video)

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Issue #27 will cover Military and Homeland Security. It will land in your mailbox September 5th, 2005.

Infamous Quotes:

"This 'telephone' has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication. The device is inherently of no value to us." Western Union internal memo, 1876
"Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible." - Physicist and mathematician Lord Kelvin, President of the British Royal Society, 1895
"Everything that can be invented has been invented." - Charles H. Duell, Director of U.S. Patent Office, 1899
"There is no likelihood man can ever tap the power of the atom." - Robert Milikan, Nobel Laureate in Physics, 1923
"Theoretically, television may be feasible, but I consider it an impossibility-a development which we should waste little time dreaming about." - Lee de Forest, inventor of the cathode ray tube, 1926
"I think there is a world market for maybe five computers." IBM's Thomas Watson, 1943
"Landing and moving around on the moon offer so many serious problems for human beings that it may take science another 200 years to lick them." - Science Digest, August 1948
"Computers in the future may weigh no more than 1.5 tons." Popular Mechanics, 1949
"There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home." Ken Olsen, Digital Equipment Corp, 1977

And the lesson is? It's a tough game to call.

Need advice? Check out NanoStrategies

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