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Nanotechnology in healthcare: turning science fiction into science fact

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  • UserDr Luis Garcia-Gancedo (Electrical Engineering Division, University of Cambridge)
  • ClockFriday 31 January 2014, 18:15-19:15
  • HouseSeminar Room, Wolfson College.

If you have a question about this talk, please contact Dr Stephen D Hoath.

Future techniques in medical diagnosis and disease treatment have often been the subject of science fiction films and books. However what once seemed science fiction is now closer to becoming reality. The human body operates at the nano scale, and in the last few years we have been gaining significant knowledge of natural processes at this scale, enabled by a new generation of scientific instruments. This recently acquired knowledge allows us to design increasingly complex medical devices that can either directly interact with, or influence, the behaviour of living cells. Nanotechnology has a trump card to play in the development of novel healthcare tools: by making use of the similar length scales between the biological and microsystems world, we can design novel materials (or manipulate the structure of existing ones) to promote direct and unique interaction with targeted biological molecules. Nanotechnology has also given rise to a new set of micro-fabrication tools for the miniaturisation of medical devices. Micro-fabrication offers increased flexibility in design and ease of manufacture compared to the processes employed to manufacture macro-scale devices, lowers the fabrication costs and allows for easy integration with existing microelectronics. It all now seems in place for a new generation of game-changing medical devices to be developed; however, as with any other rapidly developing field, there are many technological and ethical challenges to be considered, and the approach to these can drastically change the future of our healthcare system.

This talk is part of the Wolfson College Science Society series.

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