Materials scientists have performed exceptional accomplishments in the design of various types of materials that can be directly used for biomedical research. In particular, nanomaterials (including plasmonic nanoparticles) have become forefront scaffolds for designing bioactive materials. The application of such materials in biomedicine however requires a directed design providing actuation and stability in a particularly complex environment such as living organisms. Enhanced diagnostic tools for diseases such as cancer and HIV are pursued, and in this context nanoparticles offer exclusive physicochemical features for accurate biosensing, as well as actuation. We discuss the biosensing capabilities of plasmonic nanoparticles, in connection with SERS imaging. Novel therapies based on local drug delivery and photothermal therapy activated by nanoparticles are being explored. These applications are briefly discussed in this article, considering the actual biological problems faced by materials scientists and highlighting the beneficial interactions between materials science and biomedicine, which lead to novel routes in biomedical research and practice.

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DOI: 10.1016/j.mattod.2015.07.004