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Navigating Nanosensors

Navigating Nanosensors

August 2006

by Natalie Gutierrez

The success of previous inventions at the Health Science Center paves the way for a new age in cardiovascular biomedical technology. Steven R. Bailey, M.D., professor of medicine and radiology, is now taking cardiovascular therapy to the next level, adding a whole new dimension to the diagnosis and management of heart disease and a host of other health problems.

Thanks to a generous $200,000 gift from the AT&T Foundation, Dr. Bailey said plans are in place to create nanosensors that can be freestanding or attached to surgical devices such as stents and heart valves.

Cardiologists and vascular surgeons have recently begun to use very large vascular devices implanted in the body to monitor pressure in the heart or to monitor specific conditions, such as heart failure and enlargement of the aorta. Dr. Bailey said current devices have major limitations because of their size. The development of microscopic sensors will allow physicians to implant these devices in more locations throughout the body and enable more sophisticated monitoring.

Once inside the body, the nanosensor will serve as a continuous monitoring device, registering the bodyís status, including pressure of the vessel walls as the blood is pumped through the vessel. Dr. Bailey envisions that the sensor will send signals to a small apparatus, perhaps similar to a wristwatch, that a patient will wear. The physician will receive the signals at a monitoring station and will be able to monitor a patientís health no matter where the patient is - in the hospital, at home or abroad.

  Nanosensor Solution
Nanosensor Solution
"We currently assess the health of our patients at a single point in time. We have learned over the last two decades that successful long-term outcomes correlate with 24-hour monitoring of blood pressure or long-term monitoring of blood sugars," Dr. Bailey said. "This new technology will enable us to optimize treatment, decrease hospitalization and hopefully improve how our patients feel."

Dr. Bailey said the AT&T Foundation shows amazing foresight by providing this seed funding for what he calls "proof of concept."

"This type of collaborative developmental research often requires five to 10 years to reach clinical trials," Dr. Bailey said. "The generous funding provided by the AT&T Foundation will help drive this new translational research that will help physicians improve patientsí daily lives."


What you canít see could save your life.

  • Nano ó Comes from the Greek word nanos, meaning "dwarf."

  • One nanometer = one billionth of a meter (0.000000001 meter).

  • A single human hair is around 80,000 nanometers in width.

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