Nanomedicine: importance in today’s scenario
An emerging field of medical science that provides the tools for analysis and manipulation of biological processes at the nanoscale, where diseases initiate and Progress, Nanomedicine will see a massive expansion by 2025. Academic Tinku Basu, director, Amity Centre for Nanomedicine, explains why practical limitations and lack of awareness is restricting the popularity of the emerging field.
1)What is the relevance of Nanomedicine in today’s scenario?
Nanomedicine as a translational science aims to provide cost effective novel therapies and diagnostics using the enabling capacity of nanoscience and nanotechnology applied to medicine. This provides the tools for analysis and manipulation of biological processes at the nanoscale, where diseases initiate and progress. This results in a better understanding of the root cause of diseases leading to new targets for more specific and earlier diagnostic and therapeutic treatments.
Prediction states that Nanomedicine can revolutionise future healthcare system by enabling more personalised, predictive, preventive, regenerative and even remote (tele)medicine. Nanomedicine addresses group of diseases including cancer, neuro-degenerative and other neurological disorders, infectious diseases, rehabilitation/ageing-related disease and cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and endocrine disorders, arthritis and osteoarticular pathologies etc.
2) Is it making presence in the healthcare sector?
Nanomedicine provides early diagnosis, nanoscale monitoring, effective treatment and rapid recovery from injury via mimetic structures. Around 800 nanomedicine products are globally marketed, many more are phase I, II and III clinical trial. Indian government has made strategic rule for nanomedicine-based formulation in October 2019. Nano-based point of care diagnostic smart sensors will reduce the distance between the patient, clinician and pathological lab.
3) Why only a few institutes are offering courses in Nanomedicine?
Nanomedicine is an advanced and emerging field of study. It is the study of applications of nanoscience and nanotechnology in the field of medicine. Though all top-level universities including IITs, IISc Bangalore, INST Mohali, IISERs, CSIR laboratories, DRDO and a few prominent hospitals are actively involved in Nanomedicine research and are trying to commercialise their achievements. We do not have dedicated institutes on Nanomedicines due to practical limitations and lack of awareness. We need interdisciplinary courses, strong interaction between clinicians, academician and technicians, need of state-of-art infra structure, strict ethical rules and regulations for approval of health care related products.
4) How is the pharma industry in India opening up to Nanomedicines and Nanotechnology.?
Over the years, pharma industry has shown a great interest in implementing Nanomedicine technologies. Many Nanomedicines have received clinical approval based on improved safety with equivalent efficacy. There are currently over 800 Nanomedicines and Nanotechnology-based medical products approved by regulatory bodies worldwide for a variety of indications. More than 100 are under clinical trials for diseases ranging from cancer to other infectious diseases.
5)What are the challenges faced by India to expand Nanomedicine?
Although Nanomedicines have demonstrated significant therapeutic advantages for a multitude of medical applications, their transalation has not progressed as rapidly as the plethora of positive preclinical results would have suggested. Upscaling production methods and characterisation of nano formulations in a highly precise way are likely to be laborious, time consuming and expensive. In general, the challenges which limit the market entrance of Nanomedicines can be categorised as financial challenges, ethical challenges and regulatory challenges. CROs and Contract Research and Manufacturing (CRAM) are crucial stakeholders in the development of therapeutics.
In the case of Nanomedicine, they also act as the interface between knowledge source and industry participants. However, in the case of Nanomedicine, these are currently under development. Uncertainty of regulatory pathway influences the dynamics of R&D collaborations and future research. The translation of laboratory scale research to the industry remain a challenge as it requires experts in this field. Appropriate policies and coordination between different stakeholders are required to increase the development activities and commercialisation prospects.
The established regulations (in some cases, undesired regulations), laid down by drug authorities, are another challenge on the road to new developments. However, there is a ray of hope as situation is changing as government is taking initiative to promote and control nanomedicine research (new nanomedicine guidelines defined on 24th October 2019) and funding nanomedicine research. Nanopharmaceuticals are expected to capture a sizeable segment of the current market for medicines and the new guidelines will help the Indian pharmaceutical industry.
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