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Researchers from central London are working on using nanotechnology to make advances in healthcare.

Nanotechnology is the science of the very small – working on a scale one-billionth of a metre. It has been used by scientists in many disciplines to create new materials and devices by controlling matter on the atomic and molecular level. Davy Faraday researchers are exploring how nanoparticles can be used in healthcare, from disease diagnosis to cancer treatment. The research team is focussing on two specific particles – gold nanoparticles and magnetic colloids. Gold nanoparticles can be used in pregnancy tests, blood sugar monitoring and anti-cancer therapy. Magnetic colloids are used as MRI contrast agents and have great potential for anti-cancer therapy and drug delivery.

“Nanotechnology offers scientists novel applications in the field of biomedical sciences, and we are focussing on harnessing this potential to advance healthcare diagnostics and therapeutics, including localised therapy for cancer treatment,” says Dr Nguyen Thi Kim Thanh from the Davy-Faraday Research Laboratory at the The Royal Institution of Great Britain.

Visitors to the exhibit will see nanoparticles in action and take part in making them, using cooking ingredients such as lemon juice, salt and eggs. Scientists will demonstrate colour changes in nanoparticles, and how heating magnetic nanoparticles on human tissue can provide powerful localised therapy for cancer.

Exhibited by The Davy Faraday Research Laboratory; The Royal Institution of Great Britain; University College London.

See all exhibits from 2010