European researchers are developing leading technologies in the emerging field of nanomedicine but have few opportunities to exploit them commercially.
European researchers are developing leading technologies in the emerging field of nanomedicine but have few opportunities to exploit them commercially, warns a report from the European Science Foundation (ESF).
The report, Forward look on nanomedicine, calls for the setting up of specific nanomedicine-related schemes for promoting academic-commercial partnerships and the establishment of regional clusters and incubators for new nanomedicine companies. It also recommends that the EU regulatory system should promote the rapid commercialisation of nanomedicines and that more investment funds should be channelled to nanomedicine companies.
This is the culmination of a two-year study by the ESF, the European association of national scientific societies, to assess the current situation and future prospects for nanomedicine in Europe. The aim is to try to prevent US companies taking a decisive lead in the new technology, as happened with biotechnology in the 1990s. A number of European companies are already working in this area, including SkyePharma in the UK, Nanogate Technologies in Germany and Nanobiotix in France.
The report defines nanomedicine as the science and technology of diagnosing, treating and preventing disease and injury using molecular tools. It identifies five main sub-disciplines: analytical tools; nanoimaging; nanomaterials and nanodevices; novel therapeutics and drug delivery systems; and clinical, regulatory and toxicological issues. It outlines a number of pressing areas for future research and development, including nanodevices that can both detect and treat disease and new nanoscale scaffolds for tissue engineering. It lists cancer, and neurodegenerative and cardiovascular diseases as priority areas for treatment with nanomedicines.
’We hope this report will be welcomed and form a catalyst for action,’ concluded Ruth Duncan of Cardiff University, UK, who chaired the study committee.