The Magic of Thinking Small
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Nanotechnology, the science of creating structures, devices and systems with a length scale of approximately 1–100 nanometers, is poised to have a revolutionary effect on biomedical research and clinical science. By operating at the same scale as most biomacromolecules, nanoscale devices can afford a detailed view of the molecules and events that drive cellular systems and that lie at the heart of disease. Thus, nanotechnology can impact the discovery, development and clinical testing of novel pharmaceuticals. Nanoscale drug-delivery vehicles are already in clinical use, but those successes represent just one way in which nanotechnology will prove useful. One promising nanoscale technology under development may provide real-time, in vivomeasurements of apoptosis, and thus may afford an early signal of therapeutic efficacy in both human clinical trials and preclinical screening. Microfluidic systems, built of nanoscale components, can enable a host of rapid,...