As technology has emerged, we have seen that scientists have been able to produce smaller and smaller gadgets for us. Take an example of the computer, it started off as large towering machines that would fill up an entire room to being small handheld devices today. The same applies in the field of health particularly when it comes to medical devices. Nanotechnology has popularly been hailed as the next ‘big’ thing for years now and it is now truly becoming a reality. In this article, we take a look at how nanotechnology has affected medical devices and what we can expect in the future.
Chris Folk, a principal engineer for the Device Strategy Group in Amgen Incorporation has commented on how medical devices have grown over the past few years. According to Folk, there are changes happening in medical nanotechnology – there are new platforms being constructed for drug delivery and newer ways being generated for interacting with the human body. Folk believes that while there are many challenges up ahead, the devices themselves are getting smaller and there is a lot going on in terms of wearable, particularly in the diagnostics and cardiovascular space.
Let us now take a few examples of how nanotechnology has influenced medical devices (and what we will be seeing in the market soon):
- Contact lenses with virtual reality: A device known as iOptik has been developed that is essentially a contact lens which provides its wearer with a virtual canvas for a more stylish and enhanced approach towards virtual reality. Not only will this help in displaying a multi-tasking dashboard but it will also provide a safer and clearer view of the environment as well. This device has been classified as a Class II medical device in the United States (the same as contact lenses) and you can expect them to arrive in the markets soon.
- Heart Attack Detector: Eric Topol of Scripps Health and Axel Scherer of Caltech have been working on a nanosensor chip that can be injected into the bloodstream for detecting heart attacks and warning the patient (or associated individuals) via a wireless device such as their smartphone. The chip measures only 90 microns which is even smaller than a grain of sand! What this does is that it not only saves up space but a lot of valuable money and most importantly, lives as well. It is expected that such as device could also be used for detecting autoimmune diseases and cancer in the future for a more effective therapy approach.
- Black Silicon For Fighting Bacteria: Australian and Spanish scientists together have come up with a nanomaterial that is made out of black silicon with nano-sized spikes on its surface. The geometry of this surface is similar to the dragonfly that is known for inhibiting bacterial growth with the spikes on its wings. The scientists have confirmed that this nano-sized medical device will be able to do the same when worn and will be effective in fighting against a range of Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria.
While these are just a few chosen medical devices, there are hundreds of such examples available in today’s modern era that highlight how small modern medical devices have become and are expected to become in the near future. Nanotechnology is definitely the next big thing in the medical world and you can soon expect all your devices from diagnostic devices to monitoring devices to be nano-sized.
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