That remarkable piece of plastic is called a lab-on-a-chip and it is one of the revolutionary products and processes currently emerging from nanotechnology research with the potential to transform the lives of billions of the world's most vulnerable inhabitants.
According to a new study by the Canadian Program on Genomics and Global Health (CPGGH) at the University of Toronto Joint Centre for Bioethics (JCB), a leading international medical ethics think-tank, several nanotechnology applications will help people in developing countries tackle their most urgent problems - extreme poverty and hunger, child mortality, environmental degradation and diseases such as malaria and HIV/AIDS. The study is the first ranking of nanotechnology applications relative to their impact on development; it was published today by the prestigious, open-access, US-based Public Library of Science journal PLoS Medicine.
The study also relates the impact of nanotechnologies to the world's eight Millennium Development Goals, agreed in 2000 for achievement by 2015.
"Most waves of technology can increase the gap between rich and poor but the harnessing of nanotechnology represents a chance to close these gaps. The targeted application of nanotechnology has enormous potential to bring about major improvements in the living standards of people in the developing world," says CPGGH co-director and JCB Director Dr. Peter Singer.
"Science and technology alone are not going to magically solve all the problems of developing countries but they are critical components of development. Nanotechnolog