Nanotech medicine: healthcare’s next step
Getting a patient to swallow a pill-sized sensor to relay real-time data to their doctor sounds like something straight out of a low budget sci-fi flick, right?
Wrong! Thanks to advances in nanotechnology medical implants are not a futuristic fantasy – but a reality, capable of monitoring patient health on a personal level. Welcome to the world of ‘insideable’ devices, where bio-sensitive nanotechnology in a patient’s body can provide a range of critical data.
Understanding ‘insideable’ nanotechnology
An ‘insideable’ is a microscopic nanodevice that goes into a patient’s body to perform a diagnostic task or monitor one or more bodily functions. The current generation of devices can be swallowed, injected or inserted just under a patient’s skin.
Thanks to advances in nanotechnology, insideable devices are the next big thing in healthcare.
The first wave of nanodevices include radio-frequency identification (RFID) implants, which allow one to unlock a front door, computer or smartphone – all with a wave of a chip embedded in a finger. In the medical field insideable nanodevices take this concept a step further by making it possible to monitor a patient’s vital signs, track their gastrointestinal health or even detect the early signs of diseases like cancer.
The question is what practical benefits will this cutting-edge technology have for the health sector?
The biggest promise of insideable technology is to make preventive medicine a reality, and help healthcare professionals to:
- Accurately monitor patient health.
- Predict risk with a greater degree of certainty.
- Rapidly confirm a diagnosis.
- Track whether patients are taking their prescription medications.
- Collaborate with patients more effectively.
And if you are looking for a dominant trend in the sector, it has to be predictive diagnostics, which is largely driven by insideable nanotechnology.
Smart pills: the future of digital medicine
Regulatory bodies like the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have already cleared ‘smart pills’ like an ingestible sensor digital pill from Proteus Digital Health – who bill themselves as “the world’s first digital medicine service”.
Elsewhere tech giant Google is also working on a smart pill that could identify diseases before symptoms become present – a pre-emptive approach that will allow care to be personalised to the individual. There is also research into DNA nanotechnology, where one long, thin noodle-like strand of DNA can deliver drugs inside cells. Insideables could even improve the delivery of vaccines, which could mean no more needles – an advance all patients would welcome.
Insideables and nanotechnology open up a world of possibilities to make healthcare smarter, faster, more effective – and revolutionize the way we detect and treat disease.