Accenture on nanotech for medicine

In their Medical Products industry section, Accenture analysts Roland Hengerer and Martin Illsley describe what we can expect from nanotech for medicine:

“To give just a sense of the possibilities, scientists and engineers are experimenting with ways to ‘nanostructure’ matter in such a way as to create industrial materials that are 100 times stronger than steel but just one-sixth its weight. Or consider the possible benefits of submicromechanical devices about the size of a virus that might probe and deliver medicine to individual cells…

“Nanosystems. These small systems can be seen as an extension of biotechnology. For example, to create a molecular motor about the size of a virus, scientists have combined genetically engineered proteins with other chemically structured components. Researchers have even assembled a whole molecular transport system based on biomolecules. One day such devices will have powerful applications in medicine and many other industries…

“Medicine. The pharmaceutical and medical industry could be revolutionized by developments in nanotechnology. For example, instead of flushing the whole body with an ingested chemical, nano-engineered agents in pill form may be able to deliver drugs much more effectively and selectively to target cells. Implants might also become much more refined with the use of nanomaterials adapted to the body’s tissue on a molecular scale.

“Manufacturing. Nanostructured materials like super strong nanocomposites or self-cleaning nanocoatings already are big business. Such materials may become increasingly ‘smart’ in the future; possibly even adapting to changing environments the way living tissue can. These adaptable materials could enhance product performance and even, given the potential to control the changes remotely, alter the very nature of service for industries employing nanostructured materials.

“Computing. Completely new computing structures like molecular logic gates may lead to another quantum leap in computing power. These technologies could replace—at least in part—silicon-based computers, and help to give intelligence to everyday items. In addition, the human interface to computers could merge with the environment with the help of smart materials.”

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