May Swansea Science Cafe
Nature does it, so why can't we? Nanomedicine from an ethical point of view
The Swansea Science Cafe offers opportunities for anyone to find out more about new, exciting and topical areas of science.
Designed to be informal and entertaining, the café typically runs on the last Wednesday of every month at the Dylan Thomas Centre. Entry is free and talks start at 7:30pm.
Christian Lenk, University of Goettingen
Date: Wednesday, 28th May 2008
Venue: Dylan Thomas Centre, Somerset Place, Swansea
Nanomedicine is a new discipline which deals with the application of nanotechnology for medical purposes in diagnosis, prevention and therapy. "Nanos" is the Greek word for "dwarf", and nanotechnology aims on the molecular structure of things, to create new materials with new qualities which arise from characteristic effects on the molecular and atomic level.
This approach is especially interesting for medicine, because there are a lot of structures in the human body which are very difficult to reach and to influence. For example, one branch of research is the so-called "drug targeting", to bring pharmaceutical agents exactly to the place where they are needed.
In the case of tumors, this would mean that one could treat only the diseased body part and could drastically reduce harmful side-effects. However, the small size of nanoparticles could also bear some problems, i.e. that they accumulate in parts of the body where it is not intended, for example in passing the cerebral blood-brain barrier.
There is also an "utopic" meaning of nanotechnology in medicine. Some scientists dream of nanotechnological applications like small machines, which circulate in the human vascular system and remove plaques from the inside of the blood vessels.
Some applications could not only be useful for the prevention or treatment of diseases, but also for the improvement of bodily functions or even for the integration of new functions into the human body. Examples for such ideas are small implants into the human eye to enable the perception of infra-red light or implants into the inner ear for communication purposes.
The talk at the Science Café will present non-utopic and utopic projects in this field of research together with considerations from the side of medical ethics on risk assessment and the social and normative implications of nanotechnology.
For further information and details of future events visit http://www.sciencecafewales.org