In The Know: Analyst answers — The impact of nanomedicine

Promising more precision and less drug waste, there is no doubt that nanomedicine is making waves in the pharma industry. With interest on the rise regarding its impact, we spoke to subject expert and analyst Dr. Cheryl Barton to dive into recent research. From core issues to surprising insights, here she shares her thoughts on what makes the topic of nanomedicine worth investigating.

FirstWord: What makes nanomedicine an important area for pharmaceutical companies right now?

Cheryl Barton: Over the last 10 years, nanomedicine was focused on improving the delivery of drugs. Today, there is hype building around the development of nanorobots—which are not out of the realm of possibility. While nanomedicine has already caught the attention of the pharmaceutical industry, we are seeing new strong partnerships develop between pharma companies and academic institutions as the research continues.


FW: What experts have you spoken with on the subject?

CB: My goal was to gain a 360° view on what is going on in the nanomedicine field. By conducting interviews with a range of experts, I was able to uncover valuable insights from a mix of key players. The main experts include a science investigator, nanomedicine developers and company executives, academic research consultants, and a digital health expert. With their varying levels of knowledge on the subject, interviews allowed me to tap into important areas, from drug use capabilities to where nanomedicine may go in the future.


FW: Which key issue generated the most interest during conversations with experts?

CB: One of the biggest talking points across the board was the topic of precision medicine. Nanomedicine provides an extra layer of control that allows us to be precise in ways we haven’t yet seen. As the industry moves away from “personalised medicine” and into nanomedicine, pharma companies are likely to see greater positive effects and less drug waste.


FW: What were some of the most insightful interview quotes? What did they teach us?

CB: (1) When discussing the role of nanomedicine in digital health, a nanomedicine expert explained the possibilities of unleashing the potential of nanotechnology across industries: “I think nano is at the crossroads of biology, IT, data and healthcare because that’s an object that has the size that could communicate with biology and communicate with the machine.” As big IT companies take an interest in nanomedicine and healthcare, there soon may be a ‘nanointerface’ that ties it all together.

(2) In discussing the topic of pharma’s collaboration with academic institutes and nanomedicine networks, another nanomedicine expert shared insight into how the growing partnerships with academia is key to moving forward. “At this point, a lot of nanomedicine research takes place in academic institutes because of the knowledge base. The pharma industry has limited knowledge and so they are actively working with institutes and hospitals with nanomedicine experience. Given that there are many different kinds of design related to drug delivery, pharma may find it difficult to know which kind of design to invest in to support their product portfolio.”


FW: What was the most notable takeaway from researching the impact of nanomedicine in pharma? The most surprising?  

CB: The fact that nanomedicine could have implications in every drug or product is a powerful and surprising takeaway. As there is no limit to its application, nanomedicine can be a part of each stage of healthcare. From diagnostics and medical devices, to surgical procedures and drug development, the value it will bring is immeasurable.

In fact, the capabilities of nanomedicine without a drug are also on the horizon. A nanomedicine expert explained the impact well, stating that the value of current nano-enabled drugs are shared by both the delivery method and the effectiveness of the drug. However, now, “the biggest development in nanomedicine is having the nano represent the full value of what you develop, [without the need for a drug.] We’re entering into a completely novel space with respect to IP and it offers unique features that will be quite different to anything that already exists in that space that’s non-nano.”

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