The ability to engineer the structure of materials on the nanoscale has enabled access to extraordinary optical properties, the compartmentalisation and release of molecular components on demand, and the ability to interact with biological systems in unprecedented ways.1,2 The design and use of these materials to produce a medical effect, a field known as nanomedicine, is poised to have a profound impact on healthcare.3
The power of nanomedicine can be observed in a number of ways. The unique optical properties of inorganic nanoparticles and quantum dots have enabled the development of a range of new biosensors for diagnosis of disease. By linking small changes in the surface chemistry to dramatic and visible changes in bulk properties, the ease, and sensitivity of detection of a range of protein and nucleic acid biomarkers has been greatly improved. Nanoparticles have also enabled new bioimaging techniques, through their ability to enhance Raman scattering allowing rapid imaging of chemical information within cells, and their use as targeted imaging agents in vivo. Patterning of surfaces with nanoscale precision has allowed the investigation of biological interfaces and processes in vitro. Nanomaterials that can compartmentalise molecular components, such as liposomes, exosomes and self-assembled polymeric nanoparticles have also been widely exploited as drug delivery vehicles. Targeting these materials towards particular receptors and linking their properties to external triggers such as light, pH, temperature, or enzymatic activity, has enabled the delivery of therapeutics to particular locations. This talk will provide an overview of the field of nanomedicine and discuss the use of nanoparticles in biosensing, biomedical imaging, diagnostics and therapy, with examples from our work.
1. Howes PD, Rana S & Stevens MM. Chem Soc Rev 2014 43 3835.
2. Howes PD, Chandrawati R & Stevens MM. Science 2014 346 53.
3. Doane TL & Burda C. The unique role of nanoparticles in nanomedicine: imaging, drug delivery and therapy. Chem Soc Rev 2012 41 2885.