Nanotechnology is the use of materials with at least one direction less than 100 nm, so called nanomaterials. Examples of common nanomaterials include particles, fibers, tubes, coating features, etc. all with at least one dimension less than 100 nm. Nanotechnology has already begun to revolutionize numerous science and engineering fields, including, but not limited to fabricating faster and more light-weight computers, stronger buildings (even the consideration of building an elevator from the earth to the moon), improved catalytic devices, and medicine where several nanomaterials have been FDA approved for clinical use. In medicine, numerous researchers are searching for ways to make medicine more personal, and, nanotechnology may provide the answer. Imagine the day when we can utilize sensors placed in various parts throughout the body to determine, in real-time, biological events. Moreover, imagine a day when that same device can send information from inside to outside the body to help a clinician treat a medical problem that would be diagnosed using traditional medical imaging. Lastly, imagine a day when that same device could be programmed to reverse adverse biological events to ensure a healthier, more active patient. This book will examine the role that nanomaterials are playing in the above, specifically, in designing sensors that can diagnosis and treat diseases inside the body.
To introduce the reader to this exciting and fast-moving subject, this book will first provide a forward from the medical device industry concerning the importance of developing in situ sensors to diagnosis and treat diseases in ways we are currently not able to (since, after all, the best way to a fight disease or a medical problem is at the site at which it occurs, not necessarily through conventional systemic drug delivery which takes time and efficacy is lost as drugs pass through the body partially ending up at the disease location). The first chapter will then describe fundamentals of cancer and how in situ sensors are being used to treat cancer. Clearly, cancer remains one of our foremost diseases and nanotechnology-derived sensors are making much progress towards a personalized care of select cancers. The second chapter will then cover the fundamentals of how our tissues heal and how nanosensors can be used to promote tissue healing. Excessive inflammation (often leading to scar tissue growth) and infection often disrupt healing. Thus, the third chapter will cover the fundamentals of inflammation and infection and how sensors are being used to decrease such undesirable events.
The fourth chapter (and those in the remainder of the book), then delves into specific materials used for fabricating sensors. Specifically, the fourth chapter covers how DNA-based materials (due to their unique interactions with proteins, cells, etc.) are being used in nanotechnology-derived sensors. Since DNA has extreme specificity for molecular interactions, it has been widely studied for improving biosensor performance. The fifth chapter then describes unique electrically active materials specifically made for neural applications. The sixth chapter then covers sensors fabricated out of nondegradable and degradable materials exclusively for musculoskeletal applications. Lastly, the book ends with a chapter on the use of carbon nanotubes for biosensor applications. Carbon nanotubes are light weight, strong, and are conductive and, thus, lend themselves nicely to the development of biosensors.
Thus, this book represents a unique combination of engineering, physical sciences, life sciences, and medicine suitable for the design of in situ sensors that can both diagnosis and treat diseases. It covers a wide range of topics from cancer to orthopedics to inflammation and infection. It covers the use of metals, carbon nanotubes, polymers, and DNA in sensors. It provides breadth and depth into this emerging area eventually reaching the dream of developing personalized healthcare through the use of implantable sensors that can both diagnose a disease and treat it on the spot.
Thomas J. Webster
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