Nanomedicine involves cell-by-cell regenerative medicine, either repairing cells one at a time or triggering apoptotic pathways in cells that are not repairable. Multilayered nanoparticle systems are being constructed for the targeted delivery of gene therapy to single cells. Cleavable shells containing targeting, biosensing, and gene therapeutic molecules are being constructed to direct nanoparticles to desired intracellular targets. Therapeutic gene sequences are controlled by biosensor-activated control switches to provide the proper amount of gene therapy on a single cell basis. The central idea is to set up gene therapy "nanofactories" inside single living cells. Molecular biosensors linked to these genes control their expression. Gene delivery is started in response to a biosensor detected problem; gene delivery is halted when the cell response indicates that more gene therapy is not needed.
Cell targeting of nanoparticles, both nanocrystals and nanocapsules, has been tested by a combination of fluorescent tracking dyes, fluorescence microscopy and flow cytometry. Intracellular targeting has been tested by confocal microscopy. Successful gene delivery has been visualized by use of GFP reporter sequences. DNA tethering techniques were used to increase the level of expression of these genes. Integrated nanomedical systems are being designed, constructed, and tested in-vitro, ex-vivo, and in small animals.
While still in its infancy, nanomedicine represents a paradigm shift in thinking-from destruction of injured cells by surgery, radiation, chemotherapy to cell-by-cell repair within an organ and destruction of non-repairable cells by natural apoptosis.