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Nanomedicine definition being misused?

WilliamDye writes "A few weeks ago, the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha announced that it was forming a Center for Drug Delivery and Nanomedicine. The new center was briefly discussed in a recent newspaper article in the Lincoln (Nebraska) Journal-Star. Unfortunately, the use of the term "nanomedicine" at the new center does not appear to be in the realm of what many NanoDot readers would consider to be true Nanomedicine, but as with the current popular usage of the term "nanotechnology", perhaps the present initiatives will eventually lead to the earlier, more powerful concepts."

7 Responses to “Nanomedicine definition being misused?”

  1. WillWare Says:

    Linguistics of nanotech

    This confusion of terms has been a problem for years, and now with the VC money flowing, it's getting to be really difficult. Several times, people (prominently Foresight folks) have tried to choose or coin the magic short phrase that will differentiate the long-term vision from what can be done now. I am starting to wonder whether any short phrase will work. I like the phrase "machine-phase chemistry" but I suspect it's not evocative enough for many people. (Maybe the nanofactory animation DVD will change that.)

    I think we either need to find or agree upon that magic short phrase, of if no short phrase will do it, come up with a half-page description (then maybe the "short phrase" becomes a URL) so that this stuff can be differentiated from what the VCs plan to be doing over the next two or three years.

  2. Kadamose Says:

    Zettatechnology doesn't sound so bad anymore

    Nanotechnology is being abused and misused by the uneducated and from those who want to 'get rich quick' from such a fancy word. To hell with them, I say – Zettatech is the term we should all be using from now on to express 'True Nanotechnology'. I admit, I didn't like the term before…but the situation is becoming so ridiculous, that a name change, is, indeed, required.

  3. MartinBaldan Says:

    Re:Linguistics of nanotech

    I think that "molecular nanotechnology", MNT for short, is clear enough. If someone tries to use it for a different thing, Drexler et al should simply denounce it as a wrong usage, not invent yet another word. Anyway, I also like the phrase "machine-phase chemistry". Maybe it's not evocative for someone who has no clue about nanotechnology, but once you learn what it means, it is indeed quite descriptive and evocative, and also easy to remember. A word I know I'll *never* use for describing MNT is "zettatechnology". It's not just ugly, but also undescriptive and misleading. It's supposed to mean the technology for coordinating immense number of… of what? It could be applied to macroscopic objects or maybe even software objects. I want a word or phrase which makes it clear that we are trying to control atoms and molecules. Regrading "nanomedicine", I propose using the phrase "molecular nanomedicine".

  4. WillWare Says:

    They're working within the available paradigm

    Now that I've taken the time to skim the article, it's clear they're doing good stuff and should be applauded. Given what's available today, this is what they can do. The things they're making are made with synthetic chemistry: swishing trillions of atoms around in a test tube, which bump into each other at random, and then some process of physical steps lets them filter out the little doohickies that will latch onto the sides of cancer cells and kill them.

    These guys have a near-term perspective for a couple of reasons. One is that they're treating patients whose lives are in jeopardy now, and who can't afford to wait a decade or two for a much more sophisticated treatment. Another is that there's a timeframe of funding, both in venture capital and in government grants, and nobody will finance you to do work that won't pay off within five years. So one can't really say anything bad about these guys, they're treating the patients who are sick today and chasing the money that's available today. They're doing good and should be encouraged to continue.

    If we feel frustrated (perhaps just by their use of the word "nanotechnology") it's because we've pondered and discussed the possibilities of molecular manufacturing (or machine-phase chemistry or "Drexlerian" nanotech or whatever we decide to call it this week). We've drunk the kool-aid, not because we're gullible, but because a good case has been made for it and we've had the luck and the patience to hear the case and consider its merits.

    The big strategic win for nanomedicine is to make the case to doctors. With two volumes of Nanomedicine out and the DVD on the way, the debate for technical feasibility is pretty easy to make now. If I were a doctor today, I'd be thinking, gee that's great, but I'm retiring in 20 or 25 years and I don't really believe this stuff will be available by then. So the case needs to be made that it can come sooner than later. And the extent to which doctors buy that will influence how soon it comes, so there's some circularity here. Certainly it makes sense to focus on younger doctors; they're less jaded, they have less to lose, and they can reasonably have a higher expectation of seeing this stuff themselves.

    In summary, Freitas good, DVD good, Nanorex good, complacency bad.

  5. ChrisPhoenix Says:

    "MNT" is also misused

    A big thumbs-down to whoever decided (around 2001, as far as I can tell) that MNT stood for "micro nano technology." There's now an "MNT Network."

    It could be coincidence–'micro' and 'molecular' both start with M. But even if the founders were unaware of the collision, they should have checked, and then picked another name.

    I'd bet dollars to donuts that most of the business people they've invited into their network don't know that they're labeling themselves with a term that's long been associated with another and controversial branch of nanotech. In fact I wrote one to check, and he wasn't aware, and said he'd look into it.

    As MNT gains in importance, I hope the confusion hurts the "MNT Network" worse than it hurts the MNT community.


  6. WillWare Says:

    Re:Linguistics of nanotech

    we … need … a half-page description (then maybe the "short phrase" becomes a URL)

    Actually Merkle's top-level nanotech page works pretty well for this. It even has a nice short URL:

  7. MartinBaldan Says:

    Re:"MNT" is also misused

    Sure, and if we decided to adopt the phrase "machine-phase chemistry", MPC, some genius would come up with a Microscale Positional Control network, or whatever. If Drexler's Ph.D. is in "molecular nanotechnoloy" then I think the term is kind of official, isn't it?

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