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Nanopharmacology can be defined as the  application of nanotechnology to the development and/or discovery of methods to deliver drugs. In this context a nanodrug can be a vector (nanovector) designed to deliver a pharmacological agent (drug).

The prefix "nano" originates from the word νάννος (Greek for dwarf). It refers to something small . The prefix is used for a unit of time or length, volume and it means one billionth of that unit. Thus, a nanometer (nm) is 10-9 meter.

The use of nanodrugs is to reduce the drug related side effects and improve its therapeutic  efficiency.






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Arborols from "arbor" tree in Grek. See dendrimers





















See Nanotubes




Cascade Molecule


See dendrimers




Carbon Nanotubes


See Nanotubes









From "dendros", tree in Greek. Man-made molecules that have a tree-like, branched shape; these regularly developing branches emanate from a core (hyper-branched molecules). The terms "arborols", and "cascade molecules" are also used but dendrimers is the best established.

Reference: Dendrimers: properties and applications. Klajnert B, Bryszewska M. Acta Biochim Pol. 2001;48(1):199-208. Review.







Nanosized material (diameter 1-100 nM) that can carry multiple drugs and/or imaging agents.

Reference: Nanocarriers as an emerging platform for cancer therapy. Peer D, Karp JM, Hong S, Farokhzad OC, Margalit R, Langer R. Nat Nanotechnol. 2007 Dec;2(12):751-60. Review.






A nanovector designed to deliver a pharmacological agent






A device whose dimensions are measured in nanometers (millionths of a millimeter, or units of 10-9 m)














- Medical application of nanotechnology.

- Nanomedicine is the application of nanobiotechnologies to medicine.

Reference: Nanomedicine: application of nanobiotechnology in medical practice. Jain KK. Med Princ Pract. 2008;17(2):89-101. Epub 2008 Feb 19. Review.

Applications range from drug delivery, through diagnostic sensing and imaging to surgery.


The NIH defines nanomedicine as:"highly specific medical intervention at the molecular scale for curing disease or repairing damaged tissues"


Reference: Toward the emergence of nanoneurosurgery: part II--nanomedicine: diagnostics and imaging at the nanoscale level. Leary SP, Liu CY, Apuzzo ML. Neurosurgery. 2006 May;58(5):805-23; discussion 805-23. Review.







"Nanomedicines can be described as drug delivery systems developed to operate on a nanometer size range (typically <500 nm) with novel engineered properties that provide medical and pharmaceutical benefits, specifically for treatment of diseases".

Reference: Role of nanotechnology in pharmaceutical product development. Devalapally H, Chakilam A, Amiji MM.J Pharm Sci. 2007 Oct;96(10):2547-65. Review.






See Nanorobot





See Quantum dots




Writing on the nanoscale. From the Greek words “Nanos,” or Dwarf, “Lithos,” or rock, and “Grapho,” to write. This word literally means "small writing on rocks."








Particles with at least 1 dimension on the order of 100 nanometers or less. This term excludes naturally occurring substances such as viruses or volcanic ash as well as incidental particles such as diesel nanoparticles.

Reference: For the surgeon: an introduction to nanotechnology. Asiyanbola B, Soboyejo W. J Surg Educ. 2008 Mar-Apr;65(2):155-61. Review.




Application of nanotechnology to the development and/or discovery of methods to deliver drugs








"Tiny pores in a membrane that are single-molecule detectors; for example, they may allow the passage of single strands of DNA and, thus, make DNA sequencing more efficient"

Reference: For the surgeon: an introduction to nanotechnology. Asiyanbola B, Soboyejo W. J Surg Educ. 2008 Mar-Apr;65(2):155-61. Review.






A nanotechnological robot nanomachine, Also called a nanite.

Reference: Adhami E Coste-Mariene. 2003. Positioning tele-operated surgical robots for collision free optimal operation Proceedings of IEEE ICRA’02 Int’Conference on Robotics and Automation. Vol. 3. Washington, DC, USA:, p 2962–2967.









Layered colloids with a nonconducting nanoparticle core covered by a thin metal shell to which ligands can be attached.

Reference: Nanoshell-mediated near-infrared thermal therapy of tumors under magnetic resonance guidance. Hirsch LR, Stafford RJ, Bankson JA, Sershen SR, Rivera B, Price RE, Hazle JD, Halas NJ, West JL. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2003 Nov 11;100(23):13549-54.





Manipulation of  atoms and molecules in a precise, controlled manner.

The term “nanotechnology” was first used by Taniguchi et al in 1974

Reference: N. Taniguchi, On the basic concept of ‘nano-technology.’, Proceedings of the International Conference of Production Engineering, Society of Precision Engineering, Tokyo, Japan (1974).


 A formal definition for nanotechnology: “Nanotechnology is concerned with materials and systems whose structure and components exhibit novel and significantly improved physical, chemical, and biological properties, phenomena, and processes because of their small nanoscale size. Structural features in the ranges of approximately 10-9 to 10-7m (1–100 nm) determine important changes as compared to the behavior of isolated molecules (1 nm) or of bulk materials”. (Provided in the 1999 report of the Inter Agency Working Group on Nanoscience, Engineering, and Technology presented to the Office of Science and Technology Policy Committee on Technology)








The safety evaluation of nanoengineered structures and nanodevices.

Reference: Nanotoxicology: an emerging discipline evolving from studies of ultrafine particles. Oberdörster G, Oberdörster E, Oberdörster J. Environ Health Perspect. 2005 Jul;113(7):823-39. Review.














Carbon rods, which are referred to as cylindrical graphenes, with a diameter of 1 nanometer, which may be single walled or multiwalled and are used in drug and gene delivery.

Reference: Binding and condensation of plasmid DNA onto functionalized carbon nanotubes: toward the construction of nanotube-based gene delivery vectors. Singh R, Pantarotto D, McCarthy D, Chaloin O, Hoebeke J, Partidos CD, Briand JP, Prato M, Bianco A, Kostarelos K. J Am Chem Soc. 2005 Mar 30;127(12):4388-96.


"Carbon nanotubes are cylinders of one or several coaxial graphite layer(s) with a diameter in the order of nanometers"

Reference: Mechanisms of pulmonary toxicity and medical applications of carbon nanotubes: Two faces of Janus? Shvedova AA, Kisin ER, Porter D, Schulte P, Kagan VE, Fadeel B, Castranova V. Pharmacol Ther. 2009  Feb;121(2):192-204.







A pair of nanotubes attached to electrodes on a glass rod may be alternately opened and closed by changing voltage

Reference: Nanotube nanotweezers Kim P, Lieber CM. Science. 1999 Dec 10;286(5447):2148-50.





Abbreviation for "Nucleic Acid Robots." Nubots are synthetic robotics devices at the nanoscale.







Drug-delivery nanorobots

Reference: Freitas Jr., RA. 1999. Nanomedicine. Vol. I., Basic Capabilities, Landes Bioscience


  Quantum Dots




Special class of materials known as semiconductors. They have a discrete quantized (set of values, not a single number) energy spectrum. They are zero-dimensional structures that have sharper optical properties than other structures. They are used in various applications, including as fluorescent dyes

Reference: For the surgeon: an introduction to nanotechnology. Asiyanbola B, Soboyejo W. J Surg Educ. 2008 Mar-Apr;65(2):155-61. Review.


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