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nanobiomechanics (nanoscale biomechanics)

Nanobiomechanics, also called nanoscale biomechanics, is a field of biomedical technology that involves measurement of the mechanical characteristics of individual living cells. This is done using instruments that can produce, detect, and measure forces on the order of a few piconewtons (trillionths of a newton , where a trillionth is equal to 0.000000000001 or 10 -12 ). Nanobiomechanics is part of the larger field of nanoscale biomedical research.

One of the most significant potential applications of nanobiomechanics is the diagnosis of, and the development of new treatments for, disease conditions. In humans and animals, physiological disorders are correlated with specific changes in individual cells. An example is malaria, a disease that affects millions of people, particularly in the tropics. While malaria can be treated, a completely effective vaccine or cure in humans has not yet been found. In people who have malaria, the red blood cells lose much of their their flexibility. Using nanobiomechanics, researchers have been able to measure the extent to which this loss of flexibility occurs. Knowing the ways in which disease conditions affect cells may lead to new ways of treating diseases that have heretofore defied resolution.

This was last updated in March 2011

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