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India, China Trying to Fight Disease With Nanotechnology

Citing ongoing research in India, Brazil, China and South Africa, scientists say nanotechnology - science on the scale of atoms and molecules// - could give developing nations new ways to diagnose and treat disease.

Nanotechnology is the ability to see, measure, manipulate and manufacture things on a scale of 1 to 100 nanometers. A nanometer is 1 billionth of a meter; a sheet of paper is about 100,000 nanometers thick.

"Nanotechnology has the potential to generate enormous health benefits for the more than five billion people living in the developing world," said Peter Singer, senior scientist at the McLaughlin-Rotman Centre for Global Health and professor of medicine at the University of Toronto.

He was speaking at a meeting here recently on "Using Nanotechnology to Improve Health Care in Developing Countries", organised by two Woodrow Wilson International Centre efforts - the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies and the Global Health Initiative.

Singer's group showed that a surprising amount of nanotechnology research and development activity is going on in several developing countries, and that these nations are directing their nanotechnology innovation systems to address their more pressing needs.

"Countries like Brazil, India, China and South Africa have significant nanotechnology research initiatives that could be directed toward the particular needs of the poor," said Andrew Maynard, chief science adviser for the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies.

In a 2005 paper describing his team's study "Nanotechnology and the Developing World", Singer said India's Department of Science and Technology would invest $20 million in 2004-2009 for a Nanomaterials Science and Technology Initiative.

The number of nanotechnology patent applications from China ranks third, behind the US and Japan. In Brazil, the projected budget for nanoscience during 2004-2007 was about $25 million.


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