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The role of nanotechnology in European drug discovery

London, United Kingdom — May 30, 2006 — The advent of nanotechnology-based products such as nano-arrays and dendrimers is anticipated to revolutionise treatments for diseases such as cancer. The realisation that the nano-scale has certain properties needed to solve important medical challenges and cater to unmet medical needs is driving nano-medical research. Increasingly, research is focusing on the novel chemical and physical properties of nano-sized materials to develop new applications that improve human health.

Frost & Sullivan ( finds that the Drug Discovery Nanotechnology Market in Europe earned revenues of $174.2 million in 2005 and estimates this to reach $545.4 million in 2012.

“Within the realm of drug discovery and development, nanotechnology focuses mainly on improving diagnostic methods as well as developing superior drug formulations and drug delivery systems to enhance disease therapy,” notes Frost & Sullivan’s Drug Discovery Team Leader Dr. Amarpreet Dhiman. “The small size, surface tailorability, improved solubility and multifunctionality of nano-particles are opening many new avenues of research for biologists. “

The novel properties of nano-materials offer the ability to interact with complex biological functions in novel ways that operate at the very scale of biomolecules. This rapidly growing field allows cross-disciplinary researchers the opportunity to design and develop multifunctional nano-particles that can target, diagnose and treat diseases such as cancer.

While nanotechnology products are undoubtedly promising, one major issue that will have to be addressed is their long-term stability. In particular, nano-particles and nano-materials used for drug discovery applications can become a cause for concern if they degrade too rapidly or if they remain in the body for prolonged periods. The need, therefore, is to ensure that they meet optimum levels of stability.

The ability of nano-materials to interact with biological organisms leads to the possibility that they may be harmful to humans and the environment. Current understanding of the potential toxicity of nano-particles is limited, but research indicates that some of these products may enter the human body and become toxic at the cellular level, in various body fluids, tissues and/or organs.

“The impact of nano-particle interactions with the body are dependent on their size, chemical composition, surface structure, solubility, shape and how the individual nano-particles amass together” explains Dr. Amarpreet Dhiman. “Nano-particles may modify the way cells behave and the potential routes of exposure include the gastrointestinal tract, skin and lungs.

Nanotechnology-based solutions in drug discovery are still a long way from realisation. The challenge will be to ensure optimum safety and limited exposure, where the key elements for toxicity screening should include the physical and chemical characterisation of nano-materials, tissue cellular assays and animal studies.

“Nanotechnology has an extremely interdisciplinary character having a broad range of disciplines and the industry must increase awareness about the technology and its potential to encourage dialogue between nanotechnology and other communities biologists such as chemistry, genomic engineering and biotechnology,” says Dr. Amarpreet Dhiman. “By collaborating together extensively, the complexity of combining disciplines in nanotechnology will generate new businesses and help accelerate critical advances.”

The Role of Nanotechnology in European Drug Discovery is part of the Drug Discovery and Diagnostic Technologies Service, which also includes research in the following markets: Advances in Laboratory Automation in Europe, Drug Discovery Outsourcing Opportunities in India and China Regulatory Hurdles in European Drug Discovery. All research included in subscriptions provide detailed market opportunities and industry trends that have

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