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Nanotechnology for Health: Innovative Designs for Medical Diagnosis

Discover how types of nanotechnology can be used for exciting new opportunities in healthcare.

8,491 enrolled on this course

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  • Duration

    4 weeks
  • Weekly study

    3 hours

Explore the use and implications of nanotechnology in medicine

Nanotechnology is used to control and manipulate nanometer-sized matter with nanometer precision. This can be atoms, molecules, or larger biological structures such as DNA or living cells.

On this course, you’ll explore the potential of nanotechnology products in medical applications, to create new devices that can be used to diagnose a disease or monitor a medical treatment.

You’ll also consider the ethical impact of new medical nanotechnology and what societal behaviour might be affected by them.

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Skip to 0 minutes and 7 seconds What has nanotechnology to do with health? That is the topic of this course. Nanotechnology is the technology used to control and manipulate nanometer-sized matter with nanometer precision. In this course, we will show the great potential of nanotechnology. This inspires us to create new devices that can be used to diagnose a disease or monitor a medical treatment. In each week, we will describe three different perspectives. We explain how the devices work and how nanotechnology plays a role. We will furthermore show how these devices are made in our laboratories and clean rooms. All topics have strong links with ongoing research conducted at the MESA and MIRA institutes.

Skip to 0 minutes and 53 seconds The MESA Institute for Nanotechnology at the University of Twente is one of the world’s leading nanotechnology research institutes. Over 500 researchers focus on key enabling technologies. We use these technologies for the development of new diagnostic tools for medical applications. And one of these applications is the detection of biomarkers in your breath. This is the topic in the second week. We employ so-called cantilevers. This nanotechnology can be used to detect asthma or differentiate between various lung diseases at an early stage. The MIRA Institute for Biomedical Technology and Technical Medicine at the University of Twente combines fundamental and applied research with clinical practice.

Skip to 1 minute and 37 seconds This unique scientific path stimulates a successful application of fundamental concepts and enables health care to rapidly introduce new treatments. In week three, we will show you how just a single drop of blood can determine the right dose of medication. In the fourth week, we will show you how nanotechnology can detect bladder cancer in urine, an example of early diagnostics where diseases can be detected before a patient shows signs of the disease. The motto of the University of Twente is High Tech, Human Touch. Therefore, we will also discuss ethical, societal, and business implications of these new technologies.

Skip to 2 minutes and 19 seconds We invite you to join this course and hope that you will be as enthusiastic as we are about how small things can make a great difference.

What topics will you cover?

  • Introduction to the technology and science of nanotechnology
  • The relation between nanotechnology and medical applications
  • The impact and possible consequences of new techniques for ethical questions and societal behaviour
  • Introduction to the underlying science and technology of nanotechnology developments and of the techniques used to produce devices that use nanotechnology
  • Nano and breath: Electronic nose; Nano and blood: Lab-on-a-chip; Nano and urine: Cancer detection
  • Example cases where new technology is not an independent development but arises from societal questions, and in turn also creates new societal and ethical questions

When would you like to start?

Start straight away and join a global classroom of learners. If the course hasn’t started yet you’ll see the future date listed below.

  • Available now

Learning on this course

On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Describe technology and the science of nanotechnology
  • Investigate the relationship between nanotechnology and the medical application
  • Engage in the underlying science and technology and techniques used to fabricate nano devices
  • Discuss societal and ethical questions that arise from new technological developments in the health domain

Who is the course for?

This course is designed for anyone with an interest in nanotechnology or medicine.

Some of the technical sections of the course require undergraduate-level mathematics and physics, but these sections are not required to understand the main part of the course.

Who will you learn with?

I am an assistant professor nanobiophysics at the University of Twente, as well as chairing an applied research group in the field of nanobiotechnology at Saxion University of Applied Sciences.

I am researcher and lecturer at the university of Twente. My research focuses on the growth and understanding of the properties of piezoelectric thin films and the application in devices.

My focus is on the development of microfluidic systems for (bio)medical applications, thereby increasing the knowledge of biological systems and improving the diagnostics and treatment of diseases

I am a researcher nanotechnology at the University of Twente, working on an electronic nose for disease detection in breath, as well as detection of circulating tumour DNA using nanomechanical sensing

I chair the Nanofluidics for Lab on a Chip applications group at the University of Twente. I teach Nanofluidics and Lab on a Chip technology and applications.

Who developed the course?

University of Twente

As a young and entrepreneurial university in the Netherlands, the University of Twente prepares young people to tackle the grand challenges the world will be facing during the coming decades.

Learning on FutureLearn

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  • Learn through a mix of bite-sized videos, long- and short-form articles, audio, and practical activities
  • Stay motivated by using the Progress page to keep track of your step completion and assessment scores

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  • Experience the power of social learning, and get inspired by an international network of learners
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  • Complete 90% of course steps and all of the assessments to earn your certificate

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