Nanotechnology medicine is an area of medicine in which nanotechnology is applied. This technology has a number of potential applications which make it a field of immense interest among some medical researchers who believe that it could revolutionize medicine and medical treatment. As of 2009, much of the work occurring in nanotechnology medicine was on the research level, with very few products and procedures available to the general public, but the possibilities were quite clear and were constantly being expanded upon and explored.
The field of nanotechnology focuses on developing technology on the nano scale, smaller than the width of a human hair. It includes the development of extremely small particles, along with devices and machines which work on this small level, such as nanobots, robots which are potentially small enough to go inside a human cell. Nanotechnology is already used in fields like electronics, where nanotech can be used to make things such as very powerful and very tiny processors, and the same technology can be applied to the human body in sickness and in health.
The applications for medicine are clear, as much of the damage associated with injury and disease occurs on the cellular level. One way in which nanotechnology medicine could be applied, for example, is in cell repair, with nanobots handling repair of damaged cells which could not be replaced by other means. Cell repair could potentially restore function within the nervous system and other areas of the body after damage, a possibility not currently available.
Another application for nanotechnology medicine is in drug delivery. Nanoparticles can deliver drugs rapidly and effectively to the right area of the body, and they can be developed to target specific areas. For example, nanoparticles targeted at cancer cells could be used to deliver doses of chemotherapy which do not damage surrounding tissue, reducing the side effects and other risks for the patient. Likewise, they could be used to deliver directed heat and cold therapy, minimizing neighboring tissue damage.
There are also potential applications in the diagnostic and medical imaging fields. Nanotechnology medicine is appealing because it can be precisely targeted and developed to be used in very focused settings, in contrast with current methods, which seem almost clumsy by comparison. The use of nanotechnology medicine may be able to generate more precise medical imaging, down to the cellular level, and to reduce exposure to harmful radiation, a common problem associated with imaging studies.