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The Future of Nanotechnology in Medicine

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The Future of Nanotechnology in Medicine

The Future of Nanotechnology in Medicine

Around the world, researchers are increasingly thinking smaller to solve some of the biggest problems in medicine.

Though most biological processes happen at the nano level, it wasn’t until recently that new technological advancements helped in opening up the possibility of nanomedicine to healthcare researchers and professionals.

Today’s infographic, which comes to us from Best Health Degrees, highlights some of the most promising research in nanomedicine.

What is Nanotechnology?

Nanotechnology is the engineering of functional systems at the molecular level. The field combines elements of physics and molecular chemistry with engineering to take advantage of unique properties that occur at nanoscale.

One practical example of this technology is the use of tiny carbon nanotubes to transport drugs to specific cells. Not only do these nanotubes have low toxicity and a stable structure, they’re an ideal container for transporting drugs directly to the desired cells.

Small Systems, Big Applications

While many people will be most familiar with nanotech as the technology powering Iron Man’s suit, real world breakthroughs at the nanoscale will soon be saving lives in healthcare.

Here are a few ways nanotechnology is shaping the future of medical treatment:

1. Smart Pills

While smart pill technology is not a new idea — a “pill cam” was cleared by the FDA in 2001 — researchers are coming up with innovative new applications for the concept.

For example, MIT researchers designed an ingestible sensor pill that can be wirelessly controlled. The pill would be a “closed-loop monitoring and treatment” solution, adjusting the dosage of a particular drug based on data gathered within the body (e.g. gastrointestinal system).

An example of this technology in action is the recent FDA-approved smart pill that records when medication was taken. The product, which is approved for people living with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, allows patients to track their own medication history through a smartphone, or to authorize physicians and caregivers to access that information online.

2. Beating the Big C

Nearly 40% of humans will be diagnosed with cancer at some point in their lifetime, so any breakthrough in cancer treatment will have a widespread impact on society.

On the key issues with conventional chemotherapy and radiation treatments is that the body’s healthy cells can become collateral damage during the process. For this reason, researchers around the world are working on using nano particles to specifically target cancer cells.

Oncology-related drugs have the highest forecasted worldwide prescription drug sales, and targeting will be a key element in the effectiveness of these powerful new drugs.

3. Diagnostics

Medical implants — such as knee and hip replacements — have improved the lives of millions, but a common problem with these implants is the risk of post-surgery inflammation and infection. In many cases, symptoms from an infection are detected so late that treatment is less effective, or the implant will need to be replaced all together.

Nanoscale sensors embedded directly into the implant or surrounding area could detect infection much sooner. As targeted drug delivery becomes more feasible, it could be possible to administer treatment to an infected area at the first sign of infection.

Examples like this show the true promise of nanotechnology in the field of medicine. Before long, gathering data from within the body and administering treatments in real-time could move from science fiction to the real world.

10,000 years ago, man domesticated plants and animals, now it’s time to domesticate molecules.

– Professor Susan Lindquist

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Charting the Next Generation of Internet

In this graphic, Visual Capitalist has partnered with MSCI to explore the potential of satellite internet as the next generation of internet innovation.

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Teaser image of a bubble chart showing the large addressable market of satellite internet.

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The following content is sponsored by MSCI

Could Tomorrow’s Internet be Streamed from Space?

In 2023, 2.6 billion people could not access the internet. Today, companies worldwide are looking to innovative technology to ensure more people are online at the speed of today’s technology. 

Could satellite internet provide the solution?  

In collaboration with MSCI, we embarked on a journey to explore whether tomorrow’s internet could be streamed from space. 

Satellite Internet’s Potential Customer Base

Millions of people live in rural communities or mobile homes, and many spend much of their lives at sea or have no fixed abode. So, they cannot access the internet simply because the technology is unavailable. 

Satellite internet gives these communities access to the internet without requiring a fixed location. Consequently, the volume of people who could get online using satellite internet is significant:

AreaPotential Subscribers
Households Without Internet Access600,000,000
RVs 11,000,000
Recreational Boats8,500,000
Ships100,000
Commercial Aircraft25,000

Advances in Satellite Technology

Satellite internet is not a new concept. However, it has only recently been that roadblocks around cost and long turnaround times have been overcome.

NASA’s space shuttle, until it was retired in 2011, was the only reusable means of transporting crew and cargo into orbit. It cost over $1.5 billion and took an average of 252 days to launch and refurbish. 

In stark contrast, SpaceX’s Falcon 9 can now launch objects into orbit and maintain them at a fraction of the time and cost, less than 1% of the space shuttle’s cost.

Average Rocket Turnaround TimeAverage Launch/Refurbishment Cost
Falcon 9*21 days< $1,000,000
Space Shuttle252 days$1,500,000,000 (approximately)

Satellites are now deployed 300 miles in low Earth orbit (LEO) rather than 22,000 miles above Earth in Geostationary Orbit (GEO), previously the typical satellite deployment altitude.

What this means for the consumer is that satellite internet streamed from LEO has a latency of 40 ms, which is an optimal internet connection. Especially when compared to the 700 ms stream latency experienced with satellite internet streamed from GEO. 

What Would it Take to Build a Satellite Internet?

SpaceX, the private company that operates Starlink, currently has 4,500 satellites. However, the company believes it will require 10 times this number to provide comprehensive satellite internet coverage.

Charting the number of active satellites reveals that, despite the increasing number of active satellites, many more must be launched to create a comprehensive satellite internet. 

YearNumber of Active Satellites
20226,905
20214,800
20203,256
20192,272
20182,027
20171,778
20161,462
20151,364
20141,262
20131,187

Next-Generation Internet Innovation

Innovation is at the heart of the internet’s next generation, and the MSCI Next Generation Innovation Index exposes investors to companies that can take advantage of potentially disruptive technologies like satellite internet. 

You can gain exposure to companies advancing access to the internet with four indexes: 

  • MSCI ACWI IMI Next Generation Internet Innovation Index
  • MSCI World IMI Next Generation Internet Innovation 30 Index
  • MSCI China All Shares IMI Next Generation Internet Innovation Index
  • MSCI China A Onshore IMI Next Generation Internet Innovation Index

MSCI thematic indexes are objective, rules-based, and regularly updated to focus on specific emerging trends that could evolve.

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Click here to explore the MSCI thematic indexes

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