Nanotechnology for the biologist

J Leukoc Biol. 2005 Sep;78(3):585-94. doi: 10.1189/jlb.0205074. Epub 2005 May 27.


Nanotechnology refers to research and technology development at the atomic, molecular, and macromolecular scale, leading to the controlled manipulation and study of structures and devices with length scales in the 1- to 100-nanometers range. Objects at this scale, such as "nanoparticles," take on novel properties and functions that differ markedly from those seen in the bulk scale. The small size, surface tailorability, improved solubility, and multifunctionality of nanoparticles open many new research avenues for biologists. The novel properties of nanomaterials offer the ability to interact with complex biological functions in new ways-operating at the very scale of biomolecules. This rapidly growing field allows cross-disciplinary researchers the opportunity to design and develop multifunctional nanoparticles that can target, diagnose, and treat diseases such as cancer. This article presents an overview of nanotechnology for the biologist and discusses "nanotech" strategies and constructs that have already demonstrated in vitro and in vivo efficacy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Models, Immunological
  • Molecular Diagnostic Techniques / trends
  • Nanostructures / chemistry
  • Nanotechnology / methods*
  • Nanotechnology / trends*
  • Particle Size
  • Reagent Kits, Diagnostic / standards
  • Surface Properties


  • Reagent Kits, Diagnostic