In the future, explained Peter Ghazal, Chair of Edinburgh University's Department of Molecular Genetics and Biomedicine, biological sensors, the product of the integration of biology and electronics will be used to detect infections and prescribe personalized treatments. He was speaking at the International Symposium on Research in Grid/Nano/Bio/Medical Informatics (Bioinforsalud 2009), held at Madrid last month.
Ghazal also clarified that research in the fields of molecular genetics and biomedicine targets personalized medicine. Not all patients respond to drugs in the same way, and, because of this, each patient’s profile needs to be identified to be able to treat them with a specific drug.
At Bioinforsalud 2009, Martin Fritts, Principal Scientist at the US National Cancer Institute’s Nanotechnology Characterization Lab, explained that the key objective of his research is to speed up the application of nanotechnology concepts to treat cancer in clinical research. He added that there are already tens of clinical trials on cancer involving nanomedicine.
Another point he made is that informatics is a key aspect of this research, as regards both knowledge discovery and transfer to clinical research. The first standardized protocols for characterizing nanoparticles are already out and the first interdisciplinary laboratory using these protocols to conduct research is now operational.
Finally, he noted that the success of the development of nanomedicine-based treatments and diagnoses will depend on how well we understand the interactions between nanoparticles and their environments —be they organs, tissues, a cell or infracellular bodies— at the molecular level. The informatics infrastructure, he concluded, is an essential part of research underlying nanomedicine and its applications to personalized medicine.
Bioinforsalud 2009 was organized by ACTION-Grid, the first European Commission-funded initiative for analysing and linking three fields: biomedical informatics, grid technologies and nanotechnology. The organizing committee was chaired by Víctor Maojo, Director of the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid School of Computing’s Biomedical Informatics Group and by Fernando Martín Sánchez, Director of the Medical Bioinformatics Department of the Instituto de Salud Carlos III in Madrid.
ACTION-Grid’s aim is to exchange results and encourage cooperation in these scientific fields between Latin America, the Balkans and North Africa. One of ACTION-Grid’s fields of interest is nanoinformatics in medicine. In this respect, ACTION-Grid is the first European Commission-funded project addressing the field of nanoinformatics, a new informatics discipline, and its applications to medicine or nanomedicine.
Bioinforsalud 2009 is part of the implementation of ACTION-Grid and brought together twenty experts from different regions of the world, including Peter Ghazal and Martin Fritts, to discuss nanotechnology and the personalization of medicine.