Health & health care

Personalized, targeted, nanoscale medicine

Drugs that seek out cancer cells, leaving surrounding tissue unharmed. Nanoparticle “tattoos” to monitor diabetes without drawing blood. Controlling brain activity with light. Devices that build a synthetic bridge between severed nerves in paralyzed patients. Nanotechnology operates at the same scale as the body, offering powerful new approaches to human health.

New Tools to Fight Cancer

Cancer kills more people annually in the developing world than AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis combined. MIT engineers have developed a simple and cheap paper test that, like a pregnancy test, could reveal the presence of cancer within minutes. Based on nanoparticles, the test could help people receive treatment earlier, especially in the developing world.
Professor Sangeeta Bhatia SM '93, PhD '97

Nanoparticle "Tattoo" Sensors

A “tattoo” of nanoparticles engineered to be sensitive to glucose could change how people with diabetes monitor their blood sugar. The technique takes advantage of the nanoparticles’ ability to fluoresce under infrared light: a watch-like monitor could then detect the amount of fluorescence—and sugar.
Professor Michael Strano and Dr. Paul Barone

New Approaches to Drug Delivery

Drugs delivered by nanoparticles hold promise for targeted treatment of many diseases, but the need to inject them limits their usefulness. MIT researchers have developed a new type of nanoparticle that can be delivered to patients orally in pill form and absorbed through the digestive tract.
Professors Robert Langer ScD '74, Rohit Karnik, and colleagues from Brigham and Women's Hospital