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Journal of Biomedicine and Biotechnology
Volume 2006 (2006), Article ID 51516, 11 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/JBB/2006/51516
Research Article

Nanomedicine: Techniques, Potentials, and Ethical Implications

1Interdisciplinary Nanoscience Center (iNANO), University of Aarhus, Ny Munkegade, Aarhus C 8000, Denmark
2Centre for Bioethics, University of Aarhus, Taasingegade 3, Building 1443, Aarhus C 8000, Denmark
3The Kennedy Institute of Ethics, Georgetown University, Healy, 4th Floor, Washington 20057, DC, USA
4The Kennedy Institute, Gl. Landevej 7, Glostrup 2600, Denmark

Received 20 December 2005; Revised 5 June 2006; Accepted 11 July 2006

Copyright © 2006 Mette Ebbesen and Thomas G. Jensen. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

Nanotechnology is concerned with materials and systems whose structures and components exhibit novel physical, chemical, and biological properties due to their nanoscale size. This paper focuses on what is known as nanomedicine, referring to the application of nanotechnology to medicine. We consider the use and potentials of emerging nanoscience techniques in medicine such as nanosurgery, tissue engineering, and targeted drug delivery, and we discuss the ethical questions that these techniques raise. The ethical considerations involved in nanomedicine are related to risk assessment in general, somatic-cell versus germline-cell therapy, the enhancement of human capabilities, research into human embryonic stem cells and the toxicity, uncontrolled function and self-assembly of nanoparticles. The ethical considerations associated with the application of nanotechnology to medicine have not been greatly discussed. This paper aims to balance clear ethical discussion and sound science and so provide nanotechnologists and biotechnologists with tools to assess ethical problems in nanomedicine.