Published online by Cambridge University Press: 01 January 2021
Nanomedicine is yielding new and improved treatments and diagnostics for a range of diseases and disorders. Nanomedicine applications incorporate materials and components with nanoscale dimensions (often defined as 1-100 nm, but sometimes defined to include dimensions up to 1000 nm, as discussed further below) where novel physiochemical properties emerge as a result of size-dependent phenomena and high surface-to-mass ratio. Nanotherapeutics and in vivo nanodiagnostics are a subset of nanomedicine products that enter the human body. These include drugs, biological products (biologics), implantable medical devices, and combination products that are designed to function in the body in ways unachievable at larger scales. Nanotherapeutics and in vivo nanodiagnostics incorporate materials that are engineered at the nanoscale to express novel properties that are medicinally useful. These nanomedicine applications can also contain nanomaterials that are biologically active, producing interactions that depend on biological triggers. Examples include nanoscale formulations of insoluble drugs to improve bioavailability and pharmacokinetics, drugs encapsulated in hollow nanoparticles with the ability to target and cross cellular and tissue membranes (including the bloodbrain barrier) and to release their payload at a specific time or location, imaging agents that demonstrate novel optical properties to aid in locating micrometastases, and antimicrobial and drug-eluting components or coatings of implantable medical devices such as stents.
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