Micro- and Nanotechnology are revolutionising medicine. ‘Almost invisible' tools are being developed by European researchers to discover diseases earlier and to treat patients better. At the same time the miniaturisation of instruments to micro- and nano-dimensions promises to make our future lives safer and cleaner." />

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This page was published on 24/10/2006
Published: 24/10/2006

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Published: 24 October 2006  
Related theme(s) and subtheme(s)
Health & life sciencesBiotechnology  |  Molecular biology
Industrial researchNanotechnology

Micro- and nano-technologies are revolutionising medicine

Micro- and Nanotechnology are revolutionising medicine. ‘Almost invisible' tools are being developed by European researchers to discover diseases earlier and to treat patients better. At the same time the miniaturisation of instruments to micro- and nano-dimensions promises to make our future lives safer and cleaner.

Video in QuickTime format:  de  en  es  fr  it  pt  ru  (25 MB)

Nanomedicine may be defined as the monitoring, repair, construction and control of human biological systems at the molecular level, using engineered nanodevices and nanostructures. Basic nanostructured materials, engineered enzymes and the many products of biotechnology will be enormously useful in future medical applications. However, the full promise of nanomedicine is unlikely to arrive until after the development of precisely controlled or programmable medical nanomachines and nanorobots. Once nanomachines are available, the ultimate dream of every healer, medicine man, and physician throughout recorded history will at last become a reality.

Programmable and controllable microscale robots comprised of nanoscale parts fabricated to nanometre precision will allow medical doctors to execute curative and reconstructive procedures in the human body at the cellular and molecular levels. Nanomedical physicians of the early 21st century will still make good use of the body's natural healing powers and homeostatic mechanisms, because, all things equal, those interventions that intervene least are best. But the ability to direct events in a controlled fashion at the cellular level is the key that will unlock the indefinite extension of human health and the expansion of human abilities. Nanomedicine, an offshoot of nanotechnology, refers to highly specific medical intervention at the molecular scale for curing disease or repairing damaged tissues, such as bone, muscle, or nerve.

A nanometre is one-billionth of a metre, too small to be seen with a conventional lab microscope. It is at this size scale - about 100 nanometres or less - that biological molecules and structures inside living cells operate. Nanotechnology involves the creation and use of materials and devices at the level of molecules and atoms.

Research in nanotechnology began with applications outside of medicine and is based on discoveries in physics and chemistry. This is because it is essential to understand the physical and chemical properties of molecules or complexes of molecules in order to control them. The same holds true for the molecules and structures inside living tissues. Researchers have developed powerful tools to extensively categorise the parts of cells in vivid detail, and we know a great deal about how these intracellular structures operate.

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The video on this page was prepared in collaboration with Euronews for the Futuris programme, also available as a podcast.

 

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The video on this page was prepared in collaboration with Euronews for the Futuris programme, also available as a podcast.

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