'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. In Barcelona, Spain, a leading European research group (Centro Nacional de Microelectronica in Bellaterra) is developing a low-cost molecular detection tool: the "Biofinger". The tiny chips can detect a huge variety of substances, from cancer cells to chemical ingredients. The revolutionary idea is to use physical forces in nano-dimensions in order to search for molecules. A team of European researchers from the Fraunhofer Institute for Biomedical Technologies institute near Saarbruecken is using nanotechnology to improve diagnostic capabilities. In the "Adonis"-project, nano-sized gold particles are used to detect prostate cancer cells at an early stage.
This technique, which involves giving brain cells an internal matrix on which to regrow, just as ivy grows on a trellis, may one day help patients with traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries and stroke.
Approximately 99 per cent of medicinal molecules don't reach their targets and subsequently, stay in the body of the patient. As these molecules can sometimes be very toxic - particularly in the case of those designed to target cancers - research is being undertaken into more effective ways of safely transporting and delivering drugs.
Source: Association for Research in Vision & Ophthalmology
A series of nine videos on nanomedicine originally presented as an ARVO Education Course at the ARVO Annual Meeting on April 30, 2005 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The videos deal with such topics as "Nanoscale Materials Behavior - Why all the Fuss?", "Nanoparticles - Chemistry, Structure and Function", "What Can Nanotechnology Do for Biology?", "Nanotechnology and Regenerative Medicine", or "The NIH Nanomedicine Vision".
In the fight against cancer, nanotechnology introduces unique approaches to diagnosis and treatment that could not even be imagined with conventional technology. This is a general overview of nanotechnology's potential in fighting cancer.