Nanocarriers will account for 40% of a $136 billion nanotechnology-enabled drug delivery market by 2021 according to new research published by Cientifica in its report, Nanotechnology for Drug Delivery: Global Market for Nanocarriers.
"We forecast the total market size in 2021 to be US$136 billion, with a 60/40 split between nanocrystals and nanocarriers respectively, although developing new targeted delivery mechanisms may allow more value to be created for companies and entrepreneurs," said Tim Harper, CEO of Cientifica Ltd.
Drugs are loaded into nanocarriers (also called nanoshells or nanoparticles, between 1 and 100 nm), then transported through the body to the target site. This kind of targeted drug delivery for the treatment of cancers is one of the most anticipated and discussed benefits of nanotechnology-enabled medicine as it offers a level of accuracy in delivering drugs that far surpasses present methods. Typically over 90% of a drug is wasted in the body, which leads to unwanted side effects. Modern chemotherapy bombards patients with drugs in the hope that tumorous cells will be destroyed. The lack of specificity of current drug delivery techniques mean patients' healthy cells are destroyed indiscriminately along with cancer cells.
"It's the equivalent of using a nuclear bomb to eliminate just a handful of enemies," said Harper. "In theory, as long as the nanocarrier is designed specifically enough, it should be possible to deliver all of the drug to the target site whilst leaving healthy cells unaffected. This greatly reduces treatment time, costs and unwanted side effects."
Using nanotechnology to combat cancer is not new. Abraxane, the first nanoparticulate drug delivery product for the treatment of breast cancer, launched six years ago. There are now hundreds of new nanotech-based treatments under development, ranging from reformulation of existing drugs to enhance their efficacy to radical new "magic bullet" therapies.
"The healthcare market is changing. We are seeing a paradigm shift away from blockbusters and a 'one-size fits all' approach to a more personalised medicine based on an individual's unique genome and immune response. The more scientists learn about the molecular causes for disease the more targeted and effective nanotechnology-enabled drug delivery therapies will become," said Harper.