Under the Weather? Just Swallow A Doctor

Doctor In a PillSteve Connor writes in the Independent:

The day when patients can “swallow their doctor” has come a step closer with the development of a submicroscopic nanoparticle that acts as an intelligent pill to deliver drugs when and where they are needed in the body.

Each nanoparticle is built to target a specific part of the body and to release their drugs in a controlled manner over a given period of time. They are so small that millions of them could be injected into the bloodstream without harming healthy tissues.

Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge have designed the first nanoparticles designed to target the walls of the arteries around the heart. They bind specifically to the proteins that only stick out from the inner lining of the these blood vessels when they are damaged.

Once the nanoparticles take up position in the diseased arteries they are programmed to release small quantities of drugs over several weeks or months to help cardiovascular patients to recover without exposing other parts of the body to much higher doses of potentially toxic drugs.

The development comes 50 years after a prophetic lecture by the brilliant American physicist Richard Feynman entitled “there is plenty of room at the bottom” where he described possible developments in nanoscience that could one day lead patients to “swallow the doctor” in the form of tiny robotic pills that could carry out internal surgery under autonomous control.

Read More: Independent