Biomedical Applications of Nanoscale Devices

Published - Sep 2003| Analyst - Steven Edwards| Code - HLC031A
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Report Highlights

  • The worldwide market for nanoscale devices and molecular modeling is expected to rise at an average annual growth rate (AAGR) of 27.5% from $400 million in 2002 to $1.37 billion in 2007.
  • Nanoscale device sales will make up the bulk of growth, with an AAGR of 35%, to comprise 87% of the market in 2007.
  • Molecular modeling software, although not a nanoscale device, is essential to their design and manufacture. This market, valued at $137 million in 2002, will rise at an AAGR of 5.8% to $182 million in 2007.
  • Targeted drug delivery is an obvious use for nanocapsules and some objects may actually function as drugs themselves. While there is a bright future for nanodevices in this category, it will take some time to develop.


Nanotechnology involves the miniaturization of devices beyond microengineering. At nanoscale, materials can have quite different properties, as different physical principles, like van der Wall's forces and quantum effects, become more dominant. Intuitive understanding of forces like friction or surface tension is not useful at this level. Nanostructured materials may be very much stronger and lighter than conventional bulk materials.

In this report, BCC considers the ways in which nanoscale devices are being put to use in the biomedical industry, including molecular diagnostics, drugs, drug delivery, drug discovery, and nanotools such as imaging devices and software, and in medical implants. A device is a mechanical contrivance with a defined purpose. A nanoscale device is one that has one or more critical components with architectural features that are 100 nm or less.

This BCC study is presented to define the field of nanobiotechnology and its utility in creating devices of enhanced sensitivity or function that are useful in biomedical research, drug discovery and clinical therapy. Nanotechnology, a buzzword since the 1980s now is coming of age. Discoveries and inventions are building on one another in ways that can scarcely be anticipated. As future-guru Ray Kurzweil is fond of pointing out, technology advances in an exponential fashion. Nanotechnology now is approaching the steep part of the curve. At the same time, it is being combined with a relatively mature biotechnology. The result is a cornucopia of new ideas, inventions and commercial products.

With this report, BCC identifies companies and products in this emerging field, and sorts out those with bright prospects from the notso- likely contenders. This will be a valuable contribution to all those with an interest in biomedical devices, and specifically those who have a critical component with dimensions measured in nanometers (nm).


The report covers:

  • Bioassays that use nanoscale components, including thin films and nanoparticles
  • Nanotools applied to life science research, including atomic force microscopes and accessories
  • Drugs and drug delivery systems that use nanoscale capsules, fullerenes or MEMS
  • Fullerene objects, like nanotubes, as applied to medical devices
  • Quantum dots as applied to bioanalytical systems
  • Prospectives on artificial cells, organs and organisms
  • Forecasts through 2007
  • Major players and their profiles.


The information reported herein has been gathered from a variety of industry and other sources. The 10K forms and other SEC filings from public companies have been examined along with annual reports, catalogues, press releases et cetera. The World Wide Web is a rich source of information, as almost every commercial concern now has its own web page. Product literature and trade journals have been monitored, including BCC's own Nano/Bio Convergence News and proceedings of BCC Conferences, including the Nanoparticles Conference-2002 and Nanotech and Biotech Convergence-2002, for which the author of this report is program chairman. Where appropriate, medical literature and scientific literature have served as a research source.

We have also gathered information from the U.S. government, the European Commission and private foundations and organizations, including the Rand Corporation and the Institute of Nanotechnology.

Armed with the industry and statistical information garnered above, market participants have been interviewed to fill gaps in understanding.


The author of this report, Steven Edwards, Ph.D., has a broad background in the biological and health sciences, and is well acquainted with advancing technology. He received his doctorate in Biology from the University of California, San Diego. His thesis work centered on the expression of murine leukemia virus genes. He was then awarded a National Health Institutes postdoctoral Fellowship to study neuroendocrinology at Salk Institute. Subsequently, Dr. Edwards was a Research Associate at La Jolla Cancer Research Foundation (now Burnham Institute) and later an Assistant Professor in the Biochemistry Department of Meharry Medical College. There he directed a research laboratory studying transcriptional regulation supported by grants from the American Heart Association and the NIH.

Dr. Edwards is now a medical industry analyst and science writer and editor. He has been editor of several BCC newsletters, including Applied Genetics News, Drug Discovery/Technology News, Cell Therapy News and Nano/Bio Convergence News, and is now editor of Biomolecular Diagnostic News, also published by BCC. His journalistic work has also appeared in MIT's Technology Review, Diabetes Forecast, Genetic Engineering News and other publications.

Dr. Edwards was the Project Analyst responsible for the following BCC reports: B-119 Cell Therapy and Tissue Engineering, Emerging Products (1998); B-127 Microelectronic Medical Implants, Products, Technology and Opportunity (1999); B-143 Bones and Joints: Drugs, Devices and Regenerative Technologies (2000); and B-153 Progenitor and Stem Cell Therapy: Current Uses and Future Possibilities.

Dr. Edwards is Vice President of Technologies for Phaelixe, Inc., a consulting firm from Denver, CO., and consulted for a venture capital company. He is also the Program Chairman for the annual Nanotech and Biotech Convergence conference hosted by BCC. The third annual conference will be held March 28-30, 2004.

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