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THE PHARMA REVIEW (OCTOBER 2008)

Nanotechnology – The Cause and Effects of a Paradigm
Shift in Medical Science

Bhuvaneshwar. S

Abstracts: All living and nonliving matter is universally made up of nanoparticles. Being of sizes below 0.1 micrometer to 1 nm, nanoelements are ubiquitous. They range from fine silica present in sand to the genetic material commonly called DNA in living cells.

The foundation for nanotechnology was laid with the discovery and synthesis of nanomaterials such as fullerenes, dendrimers, nanotubes, and nanoparticles such as quantum dots and particles derived from gold and tin oxide. Due to differential properties of elements at the nanoscale when compared with the macro scale, nanoscience has capitalized on the properties of nanomaterials, thereby causing developments that sufficiently integrate these nanoelements. Hence, nanotechnology can be defined as technology that incorporates nanomaterials to develop devices or improve upon existing devices to perform enhanced functions that are traditionally not in the realm of functionality. The integration of nanotechnology in medical and life science applications is termed nanobiotechnology and used interchangeably with nanomedicine that strictly refers to development of nanoparticulate therapeutics.


The Rationale for Nanobiotechnology
Biology is a complex phenomenon. The interaction of a multitude of genes and proteins leads to a complicated network of signaling molecules that result in the phenotype and physiology of living systems. With the recent outburst in genome sequencing and the data emerging out of such an exercise, biologists have renewed their interest in delving deeper into biological phenomena at the cellular and molecular level to unravel possible interactions that were previously unknown. To achieve the goal of understanding physiological life better, biologists have traditionally employed instruments such as electron microscopy, molecular biology, and reporter proteins that track activity in the cellular milieu. While biological tools have their advantages, the possibility of experiments failing or specimen destruction due to degradation of sample reporters and staining compounds led biologists to think out of the box and look for solutions that would help them pursue research better and faster. The special properties of nanomaterials such as their ability to pass through the cell membrane, tunable fluorescence wavelengths, lack of quenching and many other properties in the same vein have made nanotechnology applications a favorite among biologists.

The interest toward nanomaterials due to their special properties has led to a unique relationship of delivery and dependence. Due to the unique and adaptable nature of nanomaterials, biologists are tending to depend on nanotechnology, and simultaneously, nanotechnology has delivered by seamless integration of the fundamental technologies in nanotechnology into the life sciences. The unique relationship of delivery and dependence has given birth to the unique interface that the world has christened nanobiotechnology.

 

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