Biomedical Applications: Tissue Engineering, Therapeutic Devices, and Diagnostic Systems


Mark E. Byrne Department of Chemical Engineering, Auburn University

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The emergence of nanoscale science and the materialization of consequent technologies have provided new avenues for engineering materials and devices that will revolutionize the way health care is administered. In particular, the ability to engineer with molecular to macromolecular precision has led to the creation of nanoscale materials and devices with inherent advantages relative to macroscale-structured counterparts.

In biological and medical applications, controlling interactions at the level of natural building blocks, from proteins to cells, facilitates the novel exploration, manipulation, and application of living systems and biological phenomena. Nanoengineered tissue scaffolds and nanostructured biomaterials and coatings for implants and prostheses are leading to better solutions in tissue design, reconstruction, and reparative medicine. Synthetic nanopores of tailored dimensions are probing, characterizing, and sequencing biological macromolecules. Nano- and microarrays are accelerating drug discovery and assessment of drug candidates. Self-assembly is creating new biomaterials with well-ordered structures at the nanoscale such as nanofiber peptide and protein scaffolds. Also, nanostructured materials and nanoparticulate delivery systems enable a wide range of materials for imaging and/or therapeutic purposes to be easily introduced or injected in the body.

Application of these techniques to create novel materials and devices for tissue engineering, diagnostics, and therapeutics will profoundly impact the practice of medicine. This entry reviews and discusses the emerging field of nanomedicine, where nanoscale science and technology are sculpting future innovations in medicine, and outlines the enormous potential of the field.