For Decades: The Next Big Development in Medicine is… small - June 13, 2011

Despite people ‘getting bad news’ with their health, or health problems, there is much to be hopeful for...


Today, as on all future days, our medical posts will be relevant to the area, however, we need to remain aware of the world of science and how it can help each person in Santa Fe. Science has to be relevant to remain important. As they say: the next ‘big’ development in medicine is small: Nano-Scale small. Despite people ‘getting bad news’ with their health, or health problems, there is much to be hopeful for, and huge breakthroughs in science are near.

Nanotechnology is the "intentional design, characterization, production, and applications of materials, structures, devices, and systems by controlling their size and shape in the nano-scale range (1 to 100 nanometers, a nano-meter is 1/1,000,000,000 or a billionth of a meter)". Becaus Nano-materials are similar in scale and shape to biologic molecules and systems, yet they can be engineered to have various functions and controlling factors: nanotechnology is highly fitted to become an entire next generation (or 3 or 4 generations) in biologic and medical science.

Taken from an article in the New England Journal of Medicine, December 16th 2010, we'll review the 'small' yet massive development in nanotechnology, so the reader may see and anticipate several future postings on such major nano developments which will redefine medicine, science, and our capacity to improve and extend life and quality of life.

HIV Breakthroughs with Nano-Science

One of humankind's greatest plagues, for now, is HIV. There are other health problems, but understanding, and conquering HIV will lead to generations of breakthrough science for decades.

Dendrimers, which are nanostructures that look like tree branches, have prevented the transmission of HIV in Macaque Monkeys, (1 step below humans in treatment). How the inhibition of growth and transmission disruption occurs, depends upon the dendrimer's surface chemical features and size.

For example, dendrimers with benzene dicarboxylate on the surface inhibit HIV from entering the cell of the host, by binding to its viral capsid. Dendrimers with napthalene disulfonate on the surface, enter cells and inhibit reverse-transcriptase and integrase activity. Exactly why these mechanisms work as well, and repeatedly as well as they do, has yet to be proven to the depth required by science, and is currently under investigation.

The two enzymes mentioned above (reverse-transcriptase and integrase) are involved in translating HIV viral RNA into host DNA. So far, it's believed the dendrimer size mimics the ligand, whereas the mulitvalency strengthens the interaction with the biologic target. In both cases, the therapeutic benefit for the host persists: the virus cannot function normally, cannot be transmitted from one Macaque monkey to another, and the virus cannot invade new cells in the existing host. Since nearly every healthy cell in a body will reproduce every 90 days, with the old cells dying, we can use multiples of time to free a host from HIV infection!

Nano science is using nanobots, or nano- therapies, a treatment required only once in this case, and rids the body of HIV and equally important: it prevents transmission- the two key functions which no HIV medication has done, or could ever do, with current technology. This is why we say, Nanotechnology will take us several generations ahead of where current medical science is at: taking us from stalling death in HIV, to ridding the body of HIV for good, while, at the same time preventing HIV transmission!

The next big development (and the next) in medicine is going to be small: nano-scale small, and the benefit for humankind will be massive! Think nano-technology could help cure cancer? Wait for our next post . Our medical director for Adobe Family Practice, Robert Walantas, is on the Board of Directors for the largest nano-technology company in New Mexico: Vista Therapeutics.

Vista Therapeutics is an amazing company with sensing technology which will provide several generations of advancement in medical technology. Until we can detect the exactness of a medical problem, down to the nano-scale, we cannot intervene to help our patients. Vista is uniquely positioned to provide services to the entire scientific community, and Vista is right here in Santa Fe!