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BioTech Navigator Investment Newsletter - 05 01 News Color (Page 2)

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BioTech Navigator Investment Newsletter - 05 01 News Color
BioTech Sage Report, May 2001
nanofabricated surfaces and devices
can dramatically improve the effi-
ciencies achieved thus far. Informa-
tion derived from these technologi-
cal advances will expand our scien-
tists'ability to characterize an indi-
vidual's genetic makeup, and will
revolutionize the specificity of diag-
nostics and therapeutics.
Beyond facilitating optimal
drug usage, nanotechnology can
provide new formulations and
routes for drug delivery, enormously
broadening their therapeutic poten-
tial. Increasing nanotechnological
capabilities will also markedly bene-
fit basic studies of cell biology and
pathology. And as a result of the
development of new analytical tools
capable of probing the world of the
nanometer, it is becoming increasing
possible to characterize the chemical
and mechanical properties of cells
and to measure the properties of sin-
gle molecules. These new capabili-
ties thus complement the techniques
presently used in the life sciences.
Improvements in fabrication
will lead to other advances in bio-
technology and medicine. One can
easily envision new biocompatible,
high-performance medical materials
resulting from applications of nano-
fabrication, whose surfaces would
be controlled at the nanostructure.
By manipulating structures precisely
at nanoscale dimensions, one can
control and tailor their properties in
a very accurate manner, leading to
modifications that better suit their
integration with biological systems;
for example, modifying a surface
layer for improved aqueous solubil-
ity, biocompatibility, or biorecogni-
tion. Additionally, acquired infor-
mation based on biological princi-
ples will lead to bio-inspired nano-
systems and materials that are cur-
rently being formed by self-
assembly or other methods. These
artificial nanoscale materials can be
introduced into cells to play roles in
diagnostics, but also potentially as
active components.
Finally, nanotechnology-
enabled increases in computational
power will permit the characteriza-
tion of macromolecular networks in
realistic environments. Such simula-
tions will be essential in developing
biocompatible implants and in the
drug discovery process. Given these
important areas of focus, nanotech-
nology has the potential to affect all
areas of medicine. If these promises
in nanotechnology are fulfilled, the
economic potential will be enor-
Early detection and treatment
of disease
Nanotechnology will play a cen-
tral role in the development of new
technologies to detect and treat dis-
ease much earlier. Current ap-
proaches to health care for most dis-
eases depend on the appearance of
substantial symptoms before medi-
cal professionals can recognize that
the patient has disease. By the time
those symptoms appear, effective
treatment may be difficult or impos-
sible. Early detection of incipient
disease would greatly enhance the
success rate of existing treatment
strategies, and would significantly
advance our ability to employ pre-
vention strategies that could inhibit
the onset of clinical symptoms that
may require chronic treatment. Na-
noscience and technology will play a
critical role in the development of
novel methods for detecting the bio-
logical and structural evidence of
incipient disease.
Which areas of detection need
to be addressed? Improvements in
medical imaging are essential, as
current technology has not yet
reached the speed, low cost, resolu-
tion and sensitivity that health care
professionals strive for. Na-
noscience can address modifications
or improvements to contrast agents
for use in conjunction with imaging
systems. Delivery of conventional
contrast agent molecules to sites in
the body that are currently inacces-
sible to them will be achieved
through the use of small particles
designed to have the physical and
chemical properties consistent with
delivery to their target organs. New
chemical and particulate formula-

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