"Cellular surgeons” and “molecular E.R.” are just some of the fascinating concepts that were under discussion at the May 30th World Science Festival’s “Cellular Surgeons: The New Era of Nanomedicine” event. The panel featured a physician, a physicist, and a robotocist discussing the latest trends driving future nanomedicine strategies. The replay link includes video of a pill-sized minimally invasive device currently in animal testing that can be swallowed and then magnetically manipulated inside the body by a doctor to performs multiple functions, including real-time imaging of tissue, cutting tissue, and dye-marking of diseased areas or precise drug delivery. A hallmark of nanomedicine is convergence of the fields of robotics, medicine, biotechnology, and nanotechnology to generate multi-functional devices.

These nanobots raise interesting challenges for FDA reviewers and patent considerations. FDA traditionally reviewed products by classifying them as devices or drugs, but here the lines are blurred. On the patent side, there are many different end uses possible, so in addition to patenting the device itself, there are surgical methods, diagnostic methods, and drug delivery approaches that may all be separately patentable.