The coordinated approach of the NANOFACTURING consortium, covering all fundamental stages of the supply chain, has enabled the sustainable development of nanomedicine in the EU.
The development of processes for the scale up of NANOFACTURING’s innovative platform technology, and the knowledge and expertise within from each of the partner organisations, has supported EU competitiveness, advancing the capability and skill set within the European nanopharmaceutical industry.
This has helped strengthen the research and innovation capacity of the partners, particularly for SMEs, to take a leadership position within this rapidly growing global market.
The global market for nanomedicine, including neurology, cardiovascular, anti-inflammatory, anti-infective, and oncology applications, was valued at $79 billion in 2012 and is expected to reach a value of $358 billion in 2025, demonstrating its significant market growth.
It is predicted that nanocarriers will account for 40% of the $136 billion nanotechnology-enabled drug delivery market by 2021. Europe contributed about 27% ($36 billion) of the total drug delivery market in 2010. There are currently few manufacturing companies in this sector; this therefore provides a significant opportunity for the EU to create additional capacity in this high-value emerging market. Liposomes and gold nanocarriers account for 45% of the total addressable market, with gold nanocarriers expected to experience the highest rate of growth in the next decade.
Most viral infections have no known treatment and some, such as HIV/AIDS, hepatitis-C, dengue and Ebola, can be lethal. As an example, around 500,000 people with dengue haemorrhagic fever require hospitalisation each year, a large proportion of whom are children, leading to approximately 20,000 deaths. Dengue fever is a pure unmet medical need. Current treatment consists of using either oral or intravenous rehydration for mild or moderate disease, and intravenous fluids and blood transfusion for more severe cases.
Viruses are one of the most polymorphic and resilient organisms, rapidly changing, and can modify anything in their genome, either by changing their exterior so the human immune system doesn’t recognise them or by changing their enzymes so that the handful of available drugs doesn’t affect them anymore. This is what makes viruses so dangerous. There is only a narrow array of anti-viral medications available and in many cases they present high rates of adverse effects and low rates of effectiveness. The unmet clinical need for treatment of viruses is clearly evident.
The NANOFACTURING consortium looked at developing technology to enable a new type of medicine using NPs coated with small molecules that act as antiviral drugs. This will build on the current small scale demonstration of antiviral gold nanoparticles by members of the project consortium.
The most recent data published in the Journal of Cancer, suggests that one in two people will develop cancer in their lifetime. With an ever increasing and ever aging population, cancer statistics will inevitably continue to rise, and as a result will cost healthcare systems around the world millions.
Despite huge progression in oncology treatments, there are still many currently untreatable strains of the disease. In particular, due to economic pressures faced by pharmaceutical companies, orphan cancer treatments are often not a development priority. Brain, liver, ovarian and pancreatic cancer are areas of development currently focused on by members of the NANOFACTURING consortium, and are all diseases with currently unmet clinical needs.
Members of the consortium continue to develop targeted cancer therapies by combining chemotherapeutic medicines with tumour-targeting molecules on the same GNP-based conjugate. The aim is to allow highly toxic drugs to be specifically targeted to and delivered at the tumour cells while sparing normal tissue, therefore reducing side effects and enhancing efficacy.
The gold nanoparticle is an ideal anti-cancer drug carrier, whilst its super-paramagnetic properties also make targeted thermotherapy a real possibility.
Targeting nanoparticles to cancer cells has the potential to reduce the amount of drug required for each administration, therefore reducing the side-effects.
In addition, it has been shown that targeting cancer drugs using nanoparticle carriers can overcome chemo-resistance exhibited by some tumour cells.
Overcoming the difficulty of delivering therapeutic agents to specific regions of the brain presented a major challenge to the treatment of most brain disorders. Most small-molecule drugs fail to cross the Blood Brain Barrier (BBB). No large-molecule drugs cross the BBB, with the exception of a few natural peptides and proteins such as insulin. There is only a small subset of CNS diseases that respond to current drugs, with many other CNS conditions and cancers generally have no or very few treatment options.
There are a very limited number of effective drugs for the majority of CNS disorders. Conditions such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Huntington’s, A.L.S, multiple sclerosis, neuro-AIDS, brain cancer, stroke, brain or spinal cord trauma, autism, lysosomal storage disorders, fragile X syndrome, inherited ataxias, blindness etc. are all of high unmet medical need.
Delivering drugs across the Blood-Brain Barrier (BBB) is one of the most promising applications of nanotechnology in clinical neuroscience. Nanoparticles can potentially carry out multiple tasks in a predefined sequence, which is key to the delivery of drugs across the BBB.