The prefix “nano” simply translates to one-billionth. In further explanation, nanotechnology is the sector of scientific technology catering to dimensions with less than 100 nanometers. The remaining question in the matter is: what can nanotechnology do? Although the science is fairly new in the grand scheme of history, it is quickly emerging into the medicine and healthcare industry. In fact, by 2024, the global market for nanotechnology will exceed $125 billion.
Ingestible capsules containing sensors, cameras, and more have broken ground into medicine. These are known as “Smart Pills,” whose global market will reach $650 million by 2025. In 2001, “PillCam,” the ingestible camera, became the first FDA-approved smart pill. By 2008, PillCams had been used in more than 2 million procedures.
Along with the subject, the Vibrant Capsule and Dose Tracking Pills provide an array of medical benefits. Dose Tracking Pills contain sensors relaying data through a patch worn by the patient. The patch tracks drug, dosage, and time, then relays this information to its corresponding mobile device application. The patient can then choose to share this information with their doctor, and whomever else they desire – family members, friends, or other health professionals they’re seeing. Although tracking raising ethical and privacy concerns, smart pills could improve drug adherence and patient outcomes.
On the other hand, the Vibrant Capsule promotes muscle contractions to scientifically jumpstart digestion. This is beneficial to patients seeking treatment for constipation without the use of laxatives or any other major side effects.
It doesn’t stop here, however. The future of smart pills will continue to advance in efforts to provide new insight for a wider-range of treatment options. For example, the Atmo Gas Capsule will be able to diagnose GI disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome and colitis. This can forewarn, and save, patients at risk of colon cancer and other diseases.
MIT is also dipping its feet into the Smart Pill industry with the MIT Smart Senor Capsule. Its purpose is to search for early indicators and treatment for allergic reactions and infections. This capsule will also feature Bluetooth and auto-drug-release capabilities.
Furthermore, scientists around the world are developing Nano Bots to perform a wide variety of human surgeries. In short, these will be robots performing eye surgeries, clearing blocked arteries, and collecting biopsies using external magnetic fields to direct the bots. Micromotors will contain tiny beads of magnesium and titanium to treat stomach ulcers with condensed side effects, and DNA origami robots will target cancerous cells without harming the outlying healthy tissue- showing significant results in as little as 2 weeks.
Although some forms of nanotechnology and nanobots are still in developmental phases, there are no signs development of this technology is slowing down any time soon. The goal of future nanotechnology is to make medicine as convenient and portal as possible- with the potential to improve health incomes around the world. Continue reading down to the infographic below for more insight on how the future of nanotechnology will impact humanity, medicine, and the healthcare industry- as well as how much consumers support the new technology.