Nanotechnology in Medicine: Technology Trends

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Nanomedicine refers to the area of science that combines nanotechnology with drugs or diagnostic molecules to improve the ability to target specific cells or tissues. These materials are produced on a nanoscale level and are safe to introduce into the body. Applications for nanotechnology in medicine include imaging, diagnosis, or the delivery of drugs that will help medical professionals treat various diseases.

Listed below are the key technology and scientific trends impacting the nanotechnology industry, as identified by GlobalData.

Target specification

Improving the ability of nanotechnologies to target specific cells or tissues is of great interest to companies producing nanomedicines. This area of research involves attaching nanoparticles onto drugs or liposomes to increase specific localization. Since different cell types have unique properties, nanotechnology can be used to “recognize” cells of interest. This allows associated drugs and therapeutics to reach diseased tissue while avoiding healthy cells. While this is a promising area of research, very few nanomedicines exist that successfully utilize nanotechnology in this manner. This is due to ill-defined parameters associated with pairing the correct ratio or combination of nanoparticles with the drug of interest.

Controlled drug release

The ability to control the release of a drug or therapeutic compound from its associated nanotechnology is gaining a lot of interest from industry. This “triggered” release, in theory, could be achieved from within the body or from outside the body. Internal mechanisms include changes in the environment of tumours compared to surrounding tissue, while external stimuli includes temperature changes, light, or ultrasound. Currently, research efforts are focused on trying to understand how to release diagnostic molecules and drugs from liposomes with heat, and microbubbles using ultrasound.

Understanding different patient populations

In general, there is a lack of understanding about what makes patients different from each other in terms of why drugs lack ubiquitous efficacy. This extends to why nanotechnologies are not always able to improve the therapeutic output of drugs for every patient. It will be important to understand how nanomedicines behave when encountering different physiological characteristics of patients and their disease states.

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