The earliest mention of nanotechnology and nanomedicine is ascribed to Dr. Richard Feynman in his 1959 talk at Caltech entitled “There’s Plenty of Room at the Bottom”, during which he proposed that we might manufacture progressivelysmaller machines, and in the medical realm, “swallow the surgeon.”  Nanotechnology was popularized by Dr. Eric Drexler’s in 1986 via his visionary book entitled Engines of Creation wherein he describes the almost limitless applications and potential disruptive power of nanotechnology. Drexler went on to pragmatically articulate the possibility of molecular machine systems in Nanosystems: Molecular Machinery, Manufacturing, and Computation , and further, how the advent of mature molecular manufacturing, by which practically any product may be fabricated from the bottom up, with atomic precision, might give rise to Radical Abundance.”

Nanotechnology refers to the capacity for the controllable manipulation of matter at the molecular and atomic levels toward the synthesis of unique materials, and for the creation of myriad useful devices and other products that exhibit extraordinary attributes with superior functionality. Nanotechnology is also fundamentally enabling; thus it will have strong potential to initiate significantly positive paradigm shifts across virtually every sector of society. The above said, we must be mindful as with any potentially very powerful technology, that stringent safeguards, testing standards, and comprehensive assessments of the physiological, biological, and environmental fates of the nanomaterials and processes involved, must be designed and implemented toward its development.

There are currently over 1,600 nanotechnology based consumer products already on the market. These range from the integration of nanoparticles into cosmetics and sunscreens (to enhance their appearance or performance) to spray on superhydrophobic treatments (which combine microscopic and nanometric bumps) based on the Lotus Effect whereby water droplets and any dirt always sit above the surface, meaning that the surface never actually gets wet.  A clear illustration of this is provided the company NeverWet by who makes a spray on superhydrophobic treatment for textiles and other surfaces. Other nanotechnological applications are applied to the enhancement and texture of foods and the taste of beverages through the use of nanoscale colloids and emulsions.

One of the most significant and important facets of nanotechnology will likely be its application to medicine, or what is called nanomedicine. Progressively rapid and exciting advances within this discipline are occurring globally, which hold great promise for the initiation of positive paradigm shifts across multiple medical domains. There is a powerful and quickly increasing trend toward the emergence of more compact, minimally invasive, smarter, more precise, and efficacious medical technologies.  Nanomedical diagnostics and therapeutics operate at the cellular, organellar, and molecular levels; precisely where many disease processes have their genesis, and from which they emanate. Hence, nanomedicine has strong potential for the accurate preemptive diagnoses and treatment of many diseases, prior to their having the opportunity to proliferate.

 

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