Nanotechnology—the science of manipulating the very, very tiny—could revolutionize medicine. Nanomagnets  could fry tumors, for example, and an army of nanosensors  within the body could detect the onset of life-threatening infections and diseases. Some of these ideas are already in clinical trials. But how far are they from becoming reality? What are the potential side effects? And what will nanotechnology mean for personalized medicine ?
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Immunologist and microbiologist Anna Barker recently joined Arizona State University (ASU) to direct the Transformative Healthcare Networks initiative that looks to develop novel research and treatment approaches to acute and chronic diseases. Prior to joining ASU, Barker served as the deputy director of the National Cancer Institute, where she oversaw efforts to apply nanotechnology to fighting cancer, among other things.
Chemical engineer Mark Davis splits his research at the California Institute of Technology between novel catalysts and researching nanoparticles aimed at killing cancer cells. One lead compound developed by Davis' lab was picked up by Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Cerulean Pharma and is currently in a phase II clinical trial. Davis is a member of all three national scientific academies, as well as the 400 meter dash world champion for men aged 55-59.