“Nanotech presents many opportunities to pharmaceutical giants, ranging from better delivery of existing drugs to entirely new therapies based on nanomaterials.” Matthew Nordan, Vice President, Research, Lux Research
Investments in nanotechnology by governments and industries have been accelerating at a good pace globally. However, the pharmaceutical industry has been slow in investing and adopting the technology.
With the failure of the blockbuster model, dwindling revenues, pressure from generics, patent losses, declining product pipelines and ever rising R&D costs, the pharmaceutical industry has been forced to look at other avenues for growth. Personalised medicine, demand for safe and effective drugs, and target-based drug delivery systems are expected to drive future growth. Nanotechnology is already playing a major role here, helping companies engineer drugs that can cross the blood-brain barrier, have greater solubility, stability and bioavailability and target-based drug delivery systems. According to Freedonia Group, nanotechnology-based pharmaceuticals are expected to fetch revenues of US$ 16.6 billion by 2014.
The cover story features articles on research carried out by some of the premier institutions in applying nanotechnology to improve the properties of existing drugs and identify new drug candidates. The article "Sonication-Assisted Nanoencapsulation" presents the novel approach to build capsule walls with a thickness of few tens of nanometres to adjust drug release rate and attach an antibody at the outer shell layer for targeted delivery.
"Nanobiomechanics and Human Diseases" discusses the role of biomechanics to better understand the pathophysiology of human diseases. This helps in developing new and improved high-throughput assays and diagnostic devices which are sensitive and accurate in detecting diseases during their early stages. "Unconventional Micro and Nanofabrication" dwells on some unconventional nanofabrication techniques that allow microengineering of the environment surrounding a cell. These techniques facilitate better understanding of the response of a cell to its environment in a predictive manner leading to more reproducible and meaningful assays.
Though its use is limited to a few areas, nanotechnology holds great promise and could play an important role in deciding the fortunes of the industry.