Nanobiotechnology

By: Annie Hu


Nanobiotechnology is a groundbreaking field that combines practices from several branches of science to develop novel ideas, methods, and devices. To understand what nanobiotechnology is, it’s best to first look at its components as nanobiotechnology is the result of merging the fields of nanotechnology and biotechnology.


Nanotechnology as a field deals with materials at the nanometer scale (the unit of measure translating to 10^9 x 1 meter). These nanomaterials are chemically and physically designed to respond to outside stimuli in specific ways, which produce materials with different functionalities that can be applied to research or industry. In simple terms, nanotechnology is structural engineering at a very, very small scale. The advantage of working on this small scale is the ability to observe processes that occur at a level smaller than molecules and to integrate novel technology. Working at this level, these devices can interact more effectively with subcellular levels of the body, improving therapeutic efficacy.


Image Credit: Photo by Raphaël Biscaldi on Unsplash

Nanotechnology has many fascinating applications and opens interesting new doors in the life sciences. At this new smaller-than-molecular level of understanding, biomedical tools can reach a whole new level of “advanced” and operate on the same scale as many important biological processes. Nanotechnology has already integrated itself into biology in the creation of new devices and techniques. Novel molecular imaging techniques integrate nanotechnology to detect disease earlier and more effectively. Prostheses, implants, and regenerative medicine (the branch of medicine dealing with developing methods to regrow or replace damaged cells and tissue) are also among the beneficiaries of the ability to engineer materials in a high level of detail, as most biological systems are nanosized. Biological interactions can be overserved at the level of their inorganic and organic nanoparticles to advance research into disease treatment.


Nanobiotechnology has begun to be explored in medical applications, with some technologies already being tested in clinical trials. One field that nanotechnology is expanding and improving is medical diagnostics. Currently, technologies like PCR (polymerase chain reaction) are used to detect genetic diseases by allowing for the analysis of specific segments of DNA. These technologies have led to important devices and tools, but nanobiotechnology is now providing novel and potentially more effective ways to advance conventional methods of disease detection. One example is the use of quantum dots, nanoscale probes more hardy than the traditional dyes used to detect binding antibodies and sites of disease and infection. They can survive more light emissions coming