Nanomedicine, Volume I: Basic Capabilities

© 1999 Robert A. Freitas Jr. All Rights Reserved.

Robert A. Freitas Jr., Nanomedicine, Volume I: Basic Capabilities, Landes Bioscience, Georgetown, TX, 1999 Validation and Prophylaxis

A proper therapeutic protocol will include a procedure for follow-up to ensure that the prescribed treatment was correctly executed with good results. This step is often neglected in order to save costs and may be considered unimportant by some practitioners because approximately 80%-90% of all illnesses which take patients to the doctor are self-curing or self-limiting.2205 For example, the common cold, most infectious diseases and many minor injuries are problems that usually will resolve on their own even with no treatment. In these cases the purpose of treatment is not to provide a cure, but rather to speed the healing process, improve comfort, and avoid complications. Many nanomedical treatments will require supervision and will run quickly to completion, thus follow-up may come back into vogue. Validation may also be viewed as a post-treatment re-diagnosis to ensure that no disease remains present in the patient.

Prophylaxis is the prevention of disease, typically including patient education, immunization programs, amelioration of occupational hazards, and other preventive and public health measures. In a treatment environment that is rich in effective antibacterial instrumentalities, those microbes which survive will evolve to produce only modest or negligible symptoms that are insufficiently annoying to motivate a patient to seek professional therapeutic relief. It is well-known that bacteria can modify their behavior over time. For example, syphilis had a much more fulminating course in the Middle Ages than it has in the 20th century. Some future strain of the syphilitic microbe might produce negligible symptoms, but we should still insist on its eradication because of its potential to revert to its earlier virulence if allowed to spread unchecked in a more benign form. Preventative procedures may also be needed to discover, diagnose, and treat apparently symptomless diseases, and a variety of molecular-based physiological malfunctions and structural micropathologies may require nanoscale tools in order to detect them.

With medical conditions that require ongoing supervision and adjustment, such as maintaining optimum hormone balance and minimal accumulation of molecular debris (e.g. anti-aging medicine), nanoscale monitoring stations may act as onboard cellular guidance systems, stimulating or suppressing endocrine secretion as necessary to preserve an ideal state of equilibrium. In some cases, direct manufacture of compounds not easily produced by ribosomes or other biological organelles may be required.


Last updated on 5 February 2003