sábado, 20 de marzo de 2010

Nanotechnology: convergence with modern biology and medicine

Theworldwide emergence of nanoscale science and enginee
was marked by the announcement of the National
Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI) in January 2000. Recent
research on biosystems at the nanoscale has created one of
most dynamic science and technology domains at the
confluence of physical sciences, molecular engineering, biolo
biotechnology and medicine. This domain includes better
understanding of living and thinking systems, revolutionary
biotechnology processes, the synthesis of new drugs and t
targeted delivery, regenerative medicine, neuromorphic
engineering and developing a sustainable environment.
Nanobiosystems research is a priority in many countries
and its relevance within nanotechnology is expected to
increase in the future.
Nanotechnology is the ability to work at the atomic
molecular and supramolecular levels (on a scale of 1–
100 nm) in order to understand, create and use material
structures, devices and systems with fundamentally new
properties and functions resulting from their small struc-
ture [1
]. All biological and man-made systems have the
first level of organization at the nanoscale (such as a
nanocrystals, nanotubes or nanobiomotors) where their
fundamental properties and functions are defined. The
goal of nanotechnology might be described by the ability
to assemble molecules into objects, hierarchically along
several length scales, and to disassemble objects into
molecules. This is what nature already does in living
systems and in the environment. Rearranging matter at
the nanoscale using 'weak'molecular interactions, such as
are shedding light on the dynamics and mechanistic prop-
erties of molecular biomachines, both in vivo and in vitro,
allowing the direct investigation of molecular motors,
enzyme reactions, protein dynamics, DNA transcription
and cell signaling. It has also been possible to measure the
chemical compositionwithin a single cell in vivo.Measure-
ments of the intermolecular mechanics of a single protein
molecule, polymer molecule or 'soft' nanoparticle have
been performed with atomic force microscopy (AFM) [9].
Nanoscale instrumentation has also allowedmeasurements
of smallRNAs (also called 'nanoRNAs' or short stretches of
RNAranging in length between 21 and 28 nucleotides) and
their significant effect on gene expression [10]. The dis-
covery of these small RNAs was selected as the Science
'Breakthrough of the Year' in 2002. Furthermore, a biolo-
gical force microscope, which is capable of quantitatively
measuring interfacial and adhesion forces between living
bacteria and mineral surfaces in situ, has been developed
[11]. Another contribution of nanotechnology was the
development of a nanoscale system that displays protein
unfolding events as visible color changes [12].This system
will greatly enhance our ability to visualize structural
changes of proteins in complex synthetic and living sys-tems.
Rectified Brownianmotion has been used to explain
several chemomechanical energy conversions typical to
intracellular processes, as well as the kinesin motion along
Biosystems offer bionanomaterials and nanoscale
components for manufacturing
Nature provides biologically assembled materials and
biology's molecular toolbox has been used to develop
biohybrid processes and products. Biostructures and bio-
processing offer a relatively large number of opportunities
with industrial and medical relevance. These include the
use of organic–inorganic hybridmaterials and the creation
of nanostructures as building blocks (so-called 'molecular
Lego'), which can be used to make, for example, nano-
devices for biosensing or coatings. Further examples are
given in Box.

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