Next generation nanomedicine technologies are being developed to provide for continuous and linked molecular diagnostics and therapeutics. Research is being performed to develop "sentinel nanoparticles" which will seek out diseased (e.g. cancerous) cells, enter those living cells, and either perform repairs or induce those cells to die through apoptosis. These nanoparticles are envisioned as multifunctional "smart drug delivery systems".
The nanosystems are being developed as multilayered nanoparticles (nanocrystals, nanocapsules) containing cell targeting molecules, intracellular re-targeting molecules, molecular biosensor molecules, and drugs/enzymes/gene therapy. These "nanomedicine systems" are being constructed to be autonomous, much like present-day vaccines, but will have sophisticated targeting, sensing, and feedback control systems-much more sophisticated than conventional antibody-based therapies. The fundamental concept of nanomedicine is to not to just kill all aberrant cells by surgery, radiation therapy, or chemotherapy. Rather it is to fix cells, when appropriate, one cell-at-a-time, to preserve and re-build organ systems. When cells should not be fixed, such as in cases where an improperly repaired cell might give rise to cancer cells, the nanomedical therapy would be to induce apoptosis in those cells to eliminate them without the damagin bystander effects of the inflammatory immune response system reacting to necrotic cells or those which have died from trauma or injury.
The ultimate aim of nanomedicine is to combine diagnostics and therapeutics into "real-time medicine", using where possible in-vivo cytometry techniques for diagnostics and therapeutics. A number of individual components of these multi-component nanoparticles are already working in in-vitro and ex-vivo cell and tissue systems. Work has begun on construction of integrated nanomedical systems.