Ethical, legal and social aspects of brain-implants using nano-scale materials and techniques

Nanoethics 2 (3):241-249 (2008)
Abstract
Nanotechnology is an important platform technology which will add new features like improved biocompatibility, smaller size, and more sophisticated electronics to neuro-implants improving their therapeutic potential. Especially in view of possible advantages for patients, research and development of nanotechnologically improved neuro implants is a moral obligation. However, the development of brain implants by itself touches many ethical, social and legal issues, which also apply in a specific way to devices enabled or improved by nanotechnology. For researchers developing nanotechnology such issues are rather distant from their daily work in the lab, but as soon as they use their materials or devices in medical applications such as therapy of brain diseases they have to be aware of and deal with them. This paper is intended to raise sensitivity for the ethical, legal and social aspects (ELSA) involved in applying nanotechnology in brain implants or other devices by highlighting the short term problems of testing and clinical trials within the existing regulatory frameworks (A), the short and medium-term questions of risks in the application of the devices (B) and the long-term perspectives related to problems of enhancement (C). To identify and address such issues properly nanotechnologists should involve ethical, legal and social experts and regulatory bodies in their research as early as possible. This will help to remove pressure from regulatory bodies, to settle public concern and to prevent non-acceptable developments for the benefit of the patients.
Keywords Brain  ELSA  Implants  Nanobio  Neuro
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