Advances in science have always fuelled innovation in medicine, and nanotechnology is no exception. Thanks to science fiction, most of you will have heard of nanotechnology; Dan Martin and Andrew McCaskie fill in the gaps.
- By: Dan Martin, Andrew McCaskie
Nanotechnology is the design and production of components with sizes of order nanometres (10–9m, one billionth of a metre), and nanomedicine is this technology applied to medicine. Conceptually, it is nothing new and is a natural progression towards design and study on a smaller scale—something that has been happening throughout science's history. A good example is the production of progressively smaller computers or mobile phones. But what excites people about nanotechnology is that it enables scientists to design and engineer at the molecular level, opening up a plethora of new medical possibilities.
Many nano-objects have exquisite self assembling properties, in that they will construct themselves without external intervention—given the correct conditions. It is essentially this, and the fact that miniaturisation produces more cost effective and rapidly functioning components, that makes nanotechnology possible.1 Self assembly is a fundamental principle in the natural world; viruses, for instance, self construct after manufacturing their