The ageing population, the high expectations for better quality of life and the changing lifestyle of European society call for improved, more efficient and affordable health care.
Nanotechnology can offer impressive resolutions, when applied to medical challenges like cancer, diabetes, Parkinson's or Alzheimer's disease, cardiovascular problems, inflammatory or infectious diseases.
Experts of the highest level from industry, research centers and academia convened to prepare the present vision regarding future research priorities in NanoMedicine. A key conclusion was the recommendation to set up a European Technology Platform on NanoMedicine designed to strengthen Europe's competitive position and improve the quality of life and health care of its citizens. This article has been extracted from the vision paper “European Technology Platform on NanoMedicine - Nanotechnology for Health” produced by the European Commission.
Our improved understanding of the functioning of the human body at the molecular and nanometre scale as well as our ability to intervene at presymptomatic, acute or chronic stages of an illness are of utmost importance to meet these expectations. Diseases like cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, cardiovascular problems, inflammatory and infectious diseases and depression are serious challenges to be dealt with. Nanotechnology applied to medical problems can offer impressive solutions.
Early diagnosis, ‘smart’ treatments and the triggering of self-healing mechanisms are crucial targets on the way to regained health.
At present Europe has a strong position in the emerging field of NanoMedicine that has a high potential for technological and conceptual breakthroughs, innovation and creation of employment.
NanoMedicine is an area that would benefit from coordination at European level. Thus, close cooperation between industry, research centres, academia, hospitals, regulatory bodies, funding agencies, patient organisations, investors and other stakeholders could dramatically boost this promising field.
In response to these challenges, scientific experts from industry, research centres and academia convened to prepare the present vision document regarding future research priorities in NanoMedicine.
In particular, the following three research areas have been identified as a basis of a Strategic Research Agenda (SRA) in this field:
• Nanotechnology-based Diagnostics including imaging
• Targeted Drug Delivery and Release
• Regenerative Medicine
A key conclusion of the preparatory group that elaborated this vision paper was the recommendation to the EU to set up a European Technology Platform (ETP) on NanoMedicine. This ETP will identify the major socio-economic challenges facing Europe, in providing high standards of healthcare across the population, ensuring high quality of life, and focusing on breakthrough therapies, in a cost-effective framework.
Dissemination of knowledge, regulatory and intellectual property issues, ethical, environmental and toxicological aspects as well as public perception in general have also to be addressed by the ETP.
Therefore, input from other stakeholders such as insurance companies, non-governmental organisations or patient organisations will play an important role in shaping up the final objectives of the ETP on NanoMedicine.