A voiceofsandiego.org reader just e-mailed to ask whether I think San Diego will be a player in the field of nanotechnology.

The short answer is “yes.”

The thing is, I don’t think the average San Diegan will necessarily be privy to the fact that the discoveries that come out of nanotechnology actually had a genesis in the study of all stuff teeny-tiny. Rather, we’ll just hear about the end result, which could show up in any number of industries: medicine, high-tech, defense, food, even household products.

One of the more interesting applications is the use of nanotechnology to develop therapies that target tumor cells. Not just the cancer tumor, but the cells. The more targeted approach has the potential to prevent harm to surrounding healthy tissue. The University of California, San Diego has funding from the National Cancer Institute to pursue this kind of study, under a $20 million Center for Cancer Nanotechnology Excellence initiative. UCSD announced the funding late-last year.

San Diego even has its own trade group for those interested in nanotechnology’s use in the life sciences, called NanoBioNexus.

Maybe because “nanotechnology” is one of those futuristic sounding words, journalists like to write about it. The San Diego Union-Tribune did a feature on it in March of last year, and San Diego Magazine did one in its recent September issue. Notice how they both reference Michael Crichton’s 2002 novel “Prey.”


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