Friday, May 10, 2013

Nanomedicine Hits the Spot

Advances in Medicine



Dan Peer, who runs a laboratory of nanomedicine at Tel Aviv University, says: “We have been hearing about the promise of nanomedicine for a long time, but it is now really starting to move.” 
Photo Credit & Source: Tel Aviv University

A Reuters article published in News Daily looks at nanomedicine’s ability to target drug therapies with greater precision than  traditional therapies; at least that's the potential that it holds.
The ability to encapsulate potent drugs in tiny particles measuring billionths of a metre in diameter is opening up new options for super-accurate drug delivery, increasing precision hits at the site of disease with, hopefully, fewer side effects. Three deals struck this year by privately held Bind Therapeutics, together worth nearly $1 billion if experiments are successful, highlight a new interest in using such tiny carriers to deliver drug payloads to specific locations in the body.
U.S.-based Bind is one of several biotechnology firms that are luring large pharmaceutical makers with a range of smart drug nanotechnologies, notably against cancer. And nanomedicine is also being put to work in diagnosis, with tiny particles used to improve imaging in scanners, as well as rapidly detecting some serious infections. In future, researchers hope to combine both treatment and diagnostics in a new approach dubbed "theranostics" that would allow doctors to monitor patients via their medicines.
After much hype but limited clinical success, scientists in the nanotechnology field finally see a turning point. "We have been hearing about the promise of nanomedicine for a long time, but it is now really starting to move," said Dan Peer, who runs a nanomedicine laboratory at Tel Aviv University. "There is a new level of confidence in this approach among the big pharmaceutical companies ... We will see more and more products in clinical testing over the next few years and I think that is very exciting."
Nanoparticles made of polymers, gold and even graphene - a newly-discovered form of carbon - are now in various stages of development. In cancer alone, 117 drugs are being assessed using nanoparticle formulations, though most have yet to be tried on patients, according to Thomson Reuters Pharma data. Other potential applications include treatments for inflammatory disorders, heart and brain diseases, and pain.
Although nanomedicine has been talked about for years, a normal process where the media initially magnifies the potential of new technologies, it seems that the time has now come. It takes years for a new technology to reach a level of confidence among the scientific community before it becomes available, first in clinical trails and then, once it gains regulatory approval, on a wider number of persons. The potential for nanomedicine is enormous, since there are no limits to its use in modern medicine.

And that’s a good thing. As the article points out: “Anything you can do to improve targeting of tumours rather than normal tissue—whether that is through an armed antibody or nanoparticle approach— increases the chance of success,” said Susan Galbraith, who leads AstraZeneca's oncology research.

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You can read the rest of the article at [News Daily]