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  • These tiny robots swimming in your blood are going to save your life

    Tech Mic - 03/23/2016

    “Nanomaterials help the delivery of a drug,” Tom Webster, president of the U.S. Society for Biomaterials and Chair of the Chemical Engineering Department at Northeastern University’s College of Engineering, explained in a phone interview. “If a pharmaceutical company has developed a drug to treat cancer, what we have done in the nanomaterial community is develop carriers for that drug so it can target a specific cell and release that drug to the cell.”

    At Webster Nanomedicine Lab, where Tom Webster runs the show, researchers are trying to use those materials to treat Ebola, E. coli and different noroviruses by sending nanoparticles into the body to seek out and kill bacteria without damaging your organs on the way in or out.

    Because your immune system doesn’t recognize nanomaterials as hostile invaders, the drug-loaded nanos can live in your body for a week delivering medicine — a much easier system than taking a pill every day. Right now, Webster says, there are already over 20 nanomaterials approved by the Food and Drug Administration to be used for medicine.

    Medicine isn’t the only thing nanomaterials carry. Webster’s lab has orthopedic implants that use nanoparticles to mimic your bones, promoting bone growth without drugs while reducing infection. “Those are already in humans,” Webster said. “They’re showing faster bone growth so people can get back to running or tennis. It’s much healthier than using a drug to promote bone growth.”

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