Micro-Nanotechnology has enabled the informatics and communication revolution by contributing to the quantitative understanding, miniaturization and manufacturing of semiconductor devices. Can a similar approach help us addressing biological and medical problems?
Many new concepts and nanodevices emerge that can address serious problems in biomedicine. Several examples for such concepts will be presented in this talk with special focus on tools that can be used for cancer diagnostics and fundamental neurosciences:
Plasmonics is an interesting new area because it is based on a truly “nano” phenomena and it has the chance to introduce novel possibilities into communication technology and medical diagnostics. Plasmonic particles, for example, could enable the determination of specific mRNA sequences in single cells without using PCR.
Nanotechnology also provides the possibility to interface cells in their natural environment at the nanometer scale. The FluidFM is a nanosyringe that can be used to inject, patch, or manipulate single cells without compromising their integrity. Such a tool proves also highly useful for fundamental neurosciences: Neurons can be precisely positioned and the outgrowth of neurites and axons can be controlled in situ by locally replacing cell-repellent polymers to cell-adhesive molecules.
Finally, stretchable and biocompatible microelectrode arrays can be used to stimulate intact spinal cord circuits below an injury to control the movement of the limbs aiding rehabilitation and increasing recovery of spinal-cord injured patients.