Approach to NanoHealth
The ANH defines nanohealth as understanding and addressing the molecular origins of diseases that originate within a human cell and applying nanotechnology’s power to control individual molecules for the detection, diagnosis, and treatment of these debilitating and incurable illnesses.
At the nanoscale there is no difference between chemistry and physics, engineering, mathematics, biology or any subset thereof. An operational definition of nanotechnology involves three ingredients: (1) nanoscale sizes in the device or its crucial components; (2) the man-made nature; and (3) having properties that only arise because of the nanoscopic dimensions. Nanotechnology is the manipulation of materials at the molecular level where unique phenomena can enable novel applications. The prefix “nano” in the term nanotechnology refers to a nanometer, which is one-billionth of a meter. A nanometer is 100,000 times smaller than the width a human hair. Nanotechnology provides the greatest potential for both the discovery and invention of new pharmaceuticals and devices to develop an improved paradigm of healthcare that is designed for the individual patient.
Through the development of collaborative workspace, open communications, and workshops at the Alliance institutions, the Alliance is destined to become a stronger entity ready to lead the way in nanohealth research. The collective strengths of the ANH institutions provide the incentive for Houston’s growth and attraction of more individuals, researchers, venture capitalists, and companies to the area.
The barriers between medical research and nanotechnology can only be overcome through the establishment of an interdisciplinary organization such as the Alliance. The potential applications of nanotechnology in medicine, which include treatments for the most deadly and disabling illnesses in the world such as cancer, heart, and brain disease are generating the most excitement.
Nanotechnology is all around us, but most people don’t know that it’s already a part of our lives providing advanced technology that has made our lives more productive and enjoyable. A short list of a few of the devices that use nanotechnology demonstrates that nanotechnology has applications among many different industries: computer hard drives, the coated fabrics of stain-resistant shirts, fast-absorbing transparent sunscreens, bulb-less, brighter LED traffic signals on our city streets, golf balls, tennis balls, bowling balls, and stronger plastic car bumpers. In the medical field, a drug, recently approved by the FDA, is stabilized by an albumin nanoparticle and other drugs will be delivered to specific cells using nanoparticle-derived therapeutics. In addition, nanostructured materials are being used to create precision cutting tools, such as scalpels for eye surgery, which are being used clinically in Europe today for difficult eye repair operations. These tools have the advantage of much greater sharpness and durability than previously available tools. The possibilities are truly endless.