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All The Ways Nanotech Could Fix Our Bodies In The Future

From cancer-detecting sensors to polymer materials that regrow burned skin, nanotechnology holds plenty of promise to fix human defects. But will there also be health risks we don’t anticipate?

All The Ways Nanotech Could Fix Our Bodies In The Future

The nano-scale holds a lot of promise for fixing human defects. From nano-particles that transport drugs to the brain and the inner ear, to biosensor implants that track vital signs and deliver drugs, nanotechnology’s potential medical uses are limitless.

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This infographic is a trip round the body illustrating where and how nano-medicine could have a role. It was created by Keithley Instruments, a testing device company in Ohio.


On the left side are examples where humans are currently vulnerable and failing: from the 36 million Americans who suffer hearing loss, to the 26 million who need to monitor their glucose levels manually.

On the right are the coming nano-fixes, including cancer-detecting nano-sensors and nano-polymer materials that regrow the skin on severe-burn victims.

As usual, there’s a downside to all the upside. Many people worry about the impact of nanotechnology on the environment and inside our bodies. Because these materials are by definition invisible (at least to normal sighted people) there’s the possibility of hidden pollution and later harm. The American Journal of Industrial Medicine recently reported on what is thought to be first case of a researchers becoming sick by handling a nanotech product.

“Research is needed to determine whether exposure to manufactured nanomaterials can lead to adverse effects to the heart, lungs, skin; alter reproductive performance; or contribute to cancer,” says the Environmental Protection Agency.

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About the author

Ben Schiller is a New York staff writer for Fast Company. Previously, he edited a European management magazine and was a reporter in San Francisco, Prague, and Brussels.

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