Nanomedicine For Real Or Just More Hype?

from the can-we-see-it-in-action? dept

For years and years we’ve been hearing about expected revolutions in the medical field from things like nanotechnology. And, for years and years, nothing much has happened. While this stuff isn’t simple, and things certainly don’t happen overnight, the failure to see much of anything should keep everyone pretty skeptical until we see nano-medicine in action. So, while it’s encouraging to read about some new nano-medical systems that may be coming to market, it would be nice to keep the hype in check until it’s really here and really working.

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Comments on “Nanomedicine For Real Or Just More Hype?”

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dorpus says:

Odds Ratios

If any of the detection tests work, we can expect the media to be filled with inaccurate statements that confuse Relative Risk with Odds Ratios, or use Simpson’s Paradox to tell only one side of the story. I notice the Wired Article did not mention the distinction between sensitivity and specificity, or the distinction between Positive Predictive Value (PPV) and Negative Predictive Value (NPV). The reporter probably didn’t know the difference. These things matter a lot.

For example, existing HIV tests can detect the disease with a high degree of sensitivity. But it also has low specificity, in which people who don’t have HIV also have a high chance of testing “positive”, causing unnecessary distress. Are these new nano-tests going to tell a lot of healthy people they have “cancer”?

Timothy McDonald (user link) says:

nanoscience in its infancy

I think it’s too early to cast off nanoscience for lack of results. Remember, nanoscience is still very, very new. The National Nanoscience Initiative is only four years old. Controlling clusters of matter by coaxing molecules to assemble themselves (“bottom-up assembly”) is a complete paradigm shift in our engineering methods. This is not as simple as developing new software; rather, tools and techniques must first be developed before breakthroughs in medicine and materials are seen.

However, many of these tools and techniques are closer to maturing, new nano-materials are being discovered, and progress is creeping along. The National Science Foundation (NSF) expects nanoscience to become a $1 trillion industry in ten to fifteen years. This, coming from the NSF, is not hype. Instead, it is a conservative estimate based on current trends.

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