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10/20/2004 1:11:51 PM
Nanotechnology promises medical care tailored explicitly and exactly to the individual

Michael Roukes isn't a biologist, but he sure sounds like one. Roukes is a physicist at the California Institute of Technology whose initial claim to fame -- at least in the esoteric world of nanotechnology -- was his work building molecule-sized machines. He began to recognize the tantalizing promise that these ultratiny devices have as biological sensors. Someday, he believes that these sensors will be able to track in real time the complex symphony of electrochemical signaling that goes on inside the human cell. Today, the methods scientists use to understand these processes -- everything from DNA transcription to the way cells respond to invaders -- can only be done by destroying the cell and examining the chemical traces of what remains.

Roukes' vision is to use these tools to help build a new era of personalized health care. Someday nanoscale electromechanical devices linked to powerful computers will be able to monitor human health by constantly sampling molecules flowing through the body. Early signs of a virus coming on might generate a warning to get rest. Cancer markers would send the patient to a doctor before the serious damage begins. And the treatment would be customized to each patient's unique pathologies.

...more at BusinessWeek

More Bio/Medicine Headlines ...
 - Experiments Settle Long-Standing Debate about Mysterious Array Formations in Nanofilms
 - "Critical baby step" taken for spying life on a molecular scale
 - Researchers create nanopatch for the heart
 - Seeing an atomic thickness
 - First-ever sub-nanoscale snapshots of renegade protein in Huntington's Disease

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