What is nanomedicine
Nanomedicine is a subfield of nanotechnology. It is often defined as the repair, construction and control of human biological systems using devices built upon nanotechnology standards. Basically, nanomedicine is the medical application of nanotechnology. Nanostructured materials, engineered enzymes and many other products of biotechnology will be very useful in the future. Of course, the full potential of nanomedicine is unlikely to arrive until after complex, high-sofisticated, medically programmable nanomachines and nanorobots are developed. When that happens, every medical doctor’s dream will become reality. Having robots fabricated to nanometer precision (1 nanometer = 1 bilionth of a meter) will allow medical doctors to approach the human body at the cellular and molecular levels. Interventions such as repairing damaged tissues (bone, muscle, nerve) will be possible.
We all know that the mankind is still fighting against many complex illnesses like cancer, multiple sclerosis, cardiovascular diseases, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, diabetes as well as some inflammatory or infectious diseases (i.e. HIV). Nanotechnology raises hopes and expectations for millions of patients that suffer from those diseases. For example, it is expected that doctors will be able to destroy the very first cancer cells and so stop the disease from growing.
Nanomedicine is a huge industry. Sales reached 6.8 billion dollars in 2004. Significant amounts of money are being invested in research – USA and European Union are investing billions of dollars and plan to invest more in the future.
NIH established eight nanomedicine development centers which are staffed by multidisciplinary research teams including biologists, physicians, mathematicians, engineers and computer scientists. The intial phase of their program is directed towards gathering extensive information about the properties of nanoscale biological elements. This is very important and will help scientists to correct defects in unhealthy cells. The second phase has been approved recently and is directed towards applying the knowledge from the first phase in treating diseases.
European Technology Platform is a platforum formed by 53 European stakeholders. Their first task the group had was to write a vision document on nanotechnology in which experts describe the extrapolation of needs until 2020.
There are three key priorities in the future: nanotechnology-based diagnostics and imaging, targeted drug delivery and release and regenerative medicine.
According to the journal „Nature Materials“, there are over 130 nanotech-based drugs and delivery systems developed worldwide. Nanomedicine industry is expected continue to grow and have a significant impact on the economy.