We discuss the state of the art and innovative micro- and nanoscale technologies that are finding niches and opening up new opportunities in medicine, particularly in diagnostic and therapeutic applications. We take the design of point-of-care applications and the capture of circulating tumor cells as illustrative examples of the integration of micro- and nanotechnologies into solutions of diagnostic challenges. We describe several novel nanotechnologies that enable imaging cellular structures and molecular events. In therapeutics, we describe the utilization of micro- and nanotechnologies in applications including drug delivery, tissue engineering, and pharmaceutical development/testing. In addition, we discuss relevant challenges that micro- and nanotechnologies face in achieving cost-effective and widespread clinical implementation as well as forecasted applications of micro- and nanotechnologies in medicine.
The idea and outline of this contribution was derived from the exchange of ideas among authors in the context of the Third Annual Workshop on Microtechnologies and Nanotechnologies for Medicine. This workshop was organized by the Biomaterials Innovation Research Center (BIRC) at Harvard-MIT Health Sciences and Technologies and was partially sponsored by the Tec de Monterrey and MIT Nanotechnology Program, the MIT International Science and Technology Initiatives (MISTI), and the Department of Chemical Engineering at Northeastern University.