Nanotech and Medicine: Drug and Vaccine Delivery Systems and More

July 28, 2010
Jill taylor

Nanotechnologies may soon be used to deliver targeted doses of medicine, treat wounds, and deliver pain-free flu shots and other vaccinations.

If you missed the Pediatric Practice Management Conference last week and would like to read a practice manager’s perspective, visit Brandon Betancourt’s blog, Pediatric Inc. I’ve been checking the PCC conference website to see if they’ve posted audio and/or video files or notes, but haven’t found anything yet. However, the conference just ended a few days ago, so keep checking back.

The Nature journals have been a treasure trove recently for anyone interested in advances in drug/vaccine delivery systems. The August issue of Nature Nanotechnology will include a report detailing how researchers are using “chemical ‘nanoblasts’” for intracellular drug delivery. Tiny temporary holes are punched in the membranes of living cells through a heat process, allowing therapeutic small molecules introduced to the surrounding fluids to enter. I found the read fascinating.

Nanotechnology may also soon play a key role in trauma medicine. Researchers at the University of Bath have developed a wound dressing that differentially treats bacteria. Yep, you read that correctly -- nanocapsules in the dressing are triggered to release medication in the presence of known pathogens, otherwise allowing “good” bacteria to live in peace.

I know a pediatrician who half-jokingly says he asks his nurses to administer shots because he doesn’t want the kids to hate him. Here’s potential good news for nurses everywhere: flu shots via a microneedle patch. According to the NIH, the technology has been proven in mice but has yet to be tested in humans. The research was published last week in Nature, if you’d like to read more.

Is anyone else excited about the possibility of a TMobile iPhone? As CNET points out, there are a bunch of people holding off on getting the iPhone simply because they can’t stand AT&T (as long-time readers already know, you can count me among them). Given the popularity of the iPhone, I’m surprised Apple has held out on other providers for this long. Thoughts?