The most relevant impacts are expected from the application of these technologies in three areas:
Regenerative medicine for the cure of diseases and injuries
Example of applications including devices for rehabilitation, use of bodily substance (e.g. stem cells, beta cell, etc) to regenerate tissues and organs, artificial organs, cells and tissues, smart skin patches for wound healing.
Specific benefits indicated with respect to the examples include: cells from bodily substances provide cells even in absence of donors and with lower chances of rejection; regenerative medicine could lower the social, human and economic burden deriving from “post‐acute phase” that an increasing number of people, in particular with ageing population, experience after severe diseases/injuries and could help them to recover to an autonomous life.
Nanobiophysics: trying to understand Parkinson’s disease and when and how to interfere
- Researcher: Mireille Claessens
- More info: https://www.utwente.nl/en/tnw/nbp/
- Application: trying to slow down Parkinson’s disease, by studying nano-fibrills and understanding the principles of alfsynucleine (proteins that are being created during Parkinson’s disease).
Diagnostic and assistive medical devices with improved features and functionalities, including minimally invasive systems, easier, faster, cheaper and more accurate measurements (for early stage detection). Example of applications include: minimally invasive insulin pumps, artificial pancreas constantly measuring the blood and automatically arranging insulin levels, tools for in‐vivo evaluation of nanoparticle bioaccumulation
Specific benefits indicated with respect to the examples include: smaller devices, make the disease less visible and less apparent, it makes lives much easier, in particular for lifelong diseases, and prevent people from constantly feeling like a patient; nanosensors enable to measure a larger number of parameters (e.g. biomarkers from urine or breath) also in early stage diseases, thus allowing for strong prevention and making people more conscious about the influence of their life‐style and environment on health
BIOS Lab-on-a-chip group: sensors to detect intestine cancer in early stage through urine
- Researcher: in cooperation with VUMC, Albert van den Berg, Loes Segerink
- More info: https://www.utwente.nl/en/news/!/2018/2/93158/developing-a-urine-test-for-various-types-of-cancer
- Application: new device to detect new biomarkers in urine, can be applied to detect various diseases
- Microfluidics, Lab-on-a-chip, nano-pill
Inorganic materials science: research and development of the e-nose:
- Researcher: Guus Rijnders
- More information: Utoday Magazine 2017, #2, p. 38-42 https://issuu.com/utnieuws/docs/565992u19_utodaymag_2017_nr2_f2lr_3
- Application: analysis of biomarkers through breadth for detection of diseases such as asthma and lung cancer. Cheap and quick breathalyzer test.
- E-nose is a simple device that consists of a series of miniscule sensors, each no more than ten micrometers in length and covered with a molecular adhesive.
Targeted and personalized medical treatments, in particular for cancer treatment.
Another example indicated is the use of principle of viruses, in order to design medicines that can be targeted more effectively.
Molecular Nanofabrication: Research to viruses
- Researcher: Jurriaan Huskens
- Why are some viruses contagious for people while others aren’t?
- More info: https://www.utwente.nl/en/news/!/2016/1/4415/one-million-euros-for-ut-research-into-flu-virus
- The aim of the research projects is to provide insights into which strains of the influenza virus can easily pass from animals to humans.
- Application: As part of these research projects, Huskens will create artificial cell surfaces, varying the amount of sugars per unit area. These can be used to gain more insight into which influenza viruses have a greater chance of becoming dangerous to humans.
Technologies that make life with a disease more bearable by the development of medical devices
Mesoscale chemical systems: New way non-invasive way of injecting medicines – needle free injection
- Researcher: David Fernandez Rivaz
- More info: https://www.utwente.nl/en/news/!/2016/5/497052/grant-for-needle-free-injection
- Application: Fernandez Rivas’ ultimate goal is to see to it that his device becomes available to the general public. This is why he is exploring ways of transforming his technology into a user-friendly, safe and inexpensive product.
Creative ways to explore the developments in nano and health
The NANO Supermarket presents speculative nanotech products that may hit the shelves within the next ten years: Medicinal candy, interactive wall paint, programmable wine and more. Our debate provoking products are both innovative as well as uncanny and disturbing. They function as scenarios for potential technological futures, helping us to decide what future we actually want.