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Revolutionizing drug delivery
by Ben Wilhelm

Nanobiotechnology integrates the precision and scale of nanotechnology with the complexity of biological systems, spawning an era of advanced biomedical applications and therapies. It involves creating and utilizing materials and devices at the nanoscale to diagnose, treat, and prevent diseases, and to understand biological processes in detail.

This technology has enabled the design of nanoparticles that can selectively target cancer cells, sparing healthy tissues and minimizing side effects. These nanoparticles can be engineered to deliver drugs, provide imaging contrast, or even destroy cancer cells through hyperthermia. An example of this is the use of magnetic nanoparticles to draw nanoparticles out of tumors, facilitating more efficient drug delivery.

Similarly, nanobiotechnology has led to the creation of biohybrid nanoparticles that combine therapeutic agents with natural biological processes, as demonstrated by a formulation that treats rheumatoid arthritis while also restoring immune function[48]. In the realm of diagnostics, nanotechnology has been instrumental in developing sensitive detection systems, such as a microfluidic magnetic system for identifying tumor-derived exosomes, which are pivotal for early cancer detection.

Further examples include the development of biosensors, like those for detecting the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein, which represent a significant step in controlling pandemics. In neuroscience, the NeuroWeb technology exemplifies the application of nanobiotechnology in creating electrode arrays that monitor neural activity with minimal invasiveness.

The therapeutic landscape is also being reshaped with smart nanoparticles designed for cancer therapy, providing new avenues for the targeted treatment of tumors. The absolute quantification of biomolecules, such as self-amplifying RNA, showcases the precision that nanobiotechnology brings to molecular diagnostics. Furthermore, molecular imaging techniques have been refined using nanobiotechnology, allowing for detailed visualization of biological processes, such as bacterial outer membrane vesicles, which can lead to improved bacterial detection methods.

The roots of nanobiotechnology are anchored in the visionary concepts of Richard Feynman and later, K. Eric Drexler, who proposed the idea of manipulating materials at the molecular level. Today, this concept is realized through the use of nanoparticles for drug delivery, where they can navigate the body's complex systems to deliver drugs directly to diseased cells, reducing the dosage and side effects associated with traditional therapies.

As we look to the future, nanobiotechnology continues to evolve, driven by a deeper understanding of biological systems at the nanoscale and advancements in material science. It holds the promise of revolutionizing medicine with smarter, more efficient, and personalized therapies. The potential applications are vast, and the current examples are just the tip of the iceberg as researchers continue to explore this fascinating confluence of nanotechnology and biology.



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  2. O’Melia, Meghan J., and Susan N. Thomas. "Lymphatics drain nanoparticles from tumours." Nature Materials. Accessed 6 Nov. 2023.

  3. Fang, Ronnie H., and Liangfang Zhang. "Biohybrid nanoparticles for treating arthritis." Nature Nanotechnology. Accessed 6 Nov. 2023.

  4. Qian, Qiuling, et al. "Microfluidic magnetic detection system combined with a DNA framework-mediated immune-sandwich assay for rapid and sensitive detection of tumor-derived exosomes." Microsystems & Nanoengineering. Accessed 6 Nov. 2023.

  5. Mandal, Naresh, et al. "C-MEMS-derived glassy carbon electrochemical biosensors for rapid detection of SARS-CoV-2 spike protein." Microsystems & Nanoengineering. Accessed 6 Nov. 2023.

  6. Lee, Jung Min, et al. "The ultra-thin, minimally invasive surface electrode array NeuroWeb for probing neural activity." Nature Communications. Accessed 6 Nov. 2023.

  7. Sun, Leming, et al. "Smart nanoparticles for cancer therapy." Signal Transduction and Targeted Therapy. Accessed 6 Nov. 2023.

  8. Casmil, Irafasha C., et al. "A duplex droplet digital PCR assay for absolute quantification and characterization of long self-amplifying RNA." Scientific Reports. Accessed 6 Nov. 2023.

  9. Szöllősi, Dávid, et al. "Molecular imaging of bacterial outer membrane vesicles based on bacterial surface display." Scientific Reports. Accessed 6 Nov. 2023.

  10. Strack, Rita. "Capturing subcellular metal ion dynamics." Nature Methods. Accessed 6 Nov. 2023.

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