Thomas Webster, a chemical engineering professor at Northeastern University, was recently elected as an Overseas Fellow to the Royal Society of Medicine, a UK based organisation that aims at improving science, practice, and organization of medicine. Websters lab at Northeastern University aims to develop medicine and technology at nano scale i.e. Nanotechnology. “If your system is not doing what it’s supposed to, it must be broken,” said Webster, who is the Art Zafiropoulo Chair in Engineering. “So, the key question is: What are we doing to solve this?” Webster believes that the solution of several medical problems can be solve by thinking “small” along the lines of nanoparticles, that are small enough to penetrate your skin, intestinal wall, the blood-brain barrier, and the more porous parts of the bone.
Webster says that these particles are competent to penetrate the biofilms around infections. They can deliver treatments without invasive procedures. The downside of pursuing nanotechnology as a form of treatment is brought to light by the following question- where do the nanoparticles go if they miss their target organ? Webster answers by saying’ “Although you have extreme promise for where these particles can go, you also have opened up a Pandora’s box for where they can go.”
Continuing, Webster says that their short-term solutions have received FDA approval which has given them the opportunity to test their nanotechnology by taking off-the-shelf medicines and introducing nano features to them. The change in the microscopic level impacts the surrounding tissue and cuts down bacterial growth. This feature prompts them to work closely with the department of defence to help curb bacterial growth on temporary shelter material. “We want to improve things,” Webster said. “We think there are much better ways that we can treat human diseases and human problems.”