Image from Anders Sandberg

The application of nanotechnology (engineering on the <100nm scale) to medicine. Often the term is used colloquially to refer to nanites used for medicine however nanomedicine covers a far broader range of therapeutics and drugs. Nanomedicines differ from conventional medicine by involving some application of nanoengineering e.g. environmentally sensitive drug delivery systems.

The first conceptions of nanomedicine are dated to the late Industrial Age where for many decades it was the source of much theoretical discussion and research. Many original ideas proved to be quite impractical; as with many early nanotechnology depictions ideas concerning nanomedicine consisted solely of impossibly capable nanites, curing any problem and making all other treatments obsolete. As the field developed it was clear that the scope of nanomedicine was far broader, early advances in the field gave rise to innovative drug delivery mechanisms capable of releasing a drug payload in specific environmental conditions or slowly releasing appropriate cocktails of drugs over time. As time went by further advances in nanomedicine provided greater tools to improve the efficacy of conventional medicines either by providing more sophisticated targeting/delivery systems or by creating medical devices capable of far subtler manipulation of a patient’s biology. Over the course of the Interplanetary Age primitive microbots were developed for medical purposes (medibots) though it would be many centuries until medibots capable of permanently integrating into a host would be developed.

Contrary to the predictions of early nanomedicine enthusiasts even in the Current Era nanomedicines do not constitute the only category of medicines. Rather therapies utilising microtechnologies, nuclear medicine, cell/tissue therapy and the ancient, vast field of molecular medicine are still widely used often complimenting nanomedical treatments or are even the very mechanisms by which nanomedicines operate.
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Development Notes
Text by Ryan B
original term from Max More in Anders Sandberg's Transhuman Terminology
Initially published on 16 October 2011.