At the nanoscale old materials acquire new properties that International Institute for Nanotechnology Director Chad Mirkin thinks will change the way medicine is practiced.

Oct 1, 2011
The Scientist Staff

A Small Revolution

In fewer than 15 years, nanomedicine has gone from fantasy to reality.Many trace the origins of nanomedicine to a talk Richard Feynman gave at Caltech in 1959 in which he suggested that patients might one day "swallow the surgeon". . . .By Erica Westly


BiodiversityFundingNeuroscienceSynthetic BiologyOmics

Opinion: Miniaturizing Medicine

Nanotechnology will offer doctors new ways to diagnose and treat patients, boosting efficiency and slashing costs.Nanotechnology is poised to completely transform the practice of medicine. The unique physical properties of nanomaterials hold multifaceted promise for medical applications, making nanomedicine a game-changing subfield.By Chad Mirkin

Infographic: Swallowing the Surgeon

Nanomedicines make use of the new physical properties that materials acquire when miniaturized. With suitable tinkering, the particles can be made ready recipients for an array of molecules including: therapeutic drugs, targeting molecules for cell-specific delivery, surfactants for manipulating the shape of the particle and keeping it in solution, and imaging molecules that track the location of particles in patients.


Next Generation: Cellular NanothermometerQuantum dots, typically used in imaging, also relay temperature changes within a cell.By Kerry Grens
Communication Helps Target TumorsProteins and nanoparticles that talk in order to more efficiently locate and treat tumors could reduce collateral damage to healthy tissues.By Jessica P. Johnson
Sizing Up NanoparticlesHow to put nanoparticles to work in drug development.By Kelly Rae Chi
New Mechanism for Nano Damage?Nanoparticles can damage DNA even in cells that are not directly exposed to them, raising further questions about the safety of nanomaterials used in clinical therapies.By Jef Akst
A New Twist on Nanoparticle BehaviorResearchers hoping to develop nanoparticles as medicines or carriers of therapeutic molecules may have much more to worry about than the type of material they plan on miniaturizing.By Bob Grant
The Ups and Downs of NanobiotechBalance is hard to find as researchers, investors, and environmentalists jockey for positionBy Jeffrey M. Perkel