1) What is the significance of nanomedicine in today’s scenario?
Nanomedicine as a translational science aims to provide cost-effective novel therapies and diagnoses, using the capacities of nanosciences and nanotechnology for medicine. This provides the tools to analyze and manipulate biological processes at the nanoscale, where diseases trigger and progress. This leads to a better understanding of the root cause of disease, which leads to new targets for more specific and earlier diagnostic and therapeutic treatments. It is predicted that nanomedicine can revolutionize the health system of the future by enabling more personalized, predictive, preventive, regenerative and even remote (tele) medicine. Nanomedicine deals with a group of diseases including cancer, neurodegenerative and other neurological disorders, infectious diseases, rehabilitation / aging and cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and endocrine disorders, arthritis and osteoarticular pathologies, etc.
2) Is it present in the health sector?
Nanomedicine offers early diagnosis, nanoscale monitoring, effective treatment, and rapid healing of injuries via mimetic structures. Around 800 nanomedical products are marketed worldwide, and many more are in phase I, II and III clinical studies. The Indian government set a strategic rule for formulation based on nanomedicine in October 2019. Smart sensors for diagnostic point-of-care diagnosis on a nano basis will reduce the distance between patient, clinician and pathological laboratory.
3) Why do only a few institutes offer courses in nanomedicine?
Nanomedicine is an advanced and emerging field of research. It is the study of applications of nanosciences and nanotechnology in the field of medicine. Though all top universities including IITs, IISc Bangalore, INST Mohali, IISERs, CSIR laboratories, DRDO and some prominent hospitals are actively involved in nanomedical research and are trying to commercialize their achievements. Due to practical limitations and a lack of awareness, we do not have any special institutes for nanomedicine. We need interdisciplinary courses, close interaction between clinicians, academics and technicians, state-of-the-art infrastructure, strict ethical rules and regulations for the approval of products in healthcare.
4) How is the pharmaceutical industry in India opening up to nanomedicine and nanotechnology?
Over the years the pharmaceutical industry has shown a great deal of interest in implementing nanomedicine technologies. Many nanomedicines have received clinical approval based on improved safety with the same effectiveness. There are currently over 800 medical devices based on nanomedicine and nanotechnology that have been approved by regulatory authorities worldwide for a variety of indications. More than 100 are in clinical trials for diseases ranging from cancer to other infectious diseases.
5) What challenges does India face in the expansion of nanomedicine?
Although nanomedicine has shown significant therapeutic benefits for a variety of medical applications, its transalation has not progressed as rapidly as the abundance of positive preclinical results would suggest. Scaling up production methods and high-precision characterization of nano-formulations are likely to be tedious, time-consuming, and expensive. In general, the challenges that limit nanomedicine entry can be classified as financial challenges, ethical challenges, and regulatory challenges. CROs and Contract Research and Manufacturing (CRAM) are key players in the development of therapeutics. In the case of nanomedicine, they also act as an interface between the knowledge source and participants from industry. In the case of nanomedicine, however, these are currently under development. The uncertainty of the regulatory path affects the dynamics of R&D cooperation and future research. Translating laboratory-scale research into industry remains a challenge as experts in the field are required. Appropriate guidelines and coordination between different stakeholders are required to improve development activities and commercialization prospects. The established regulations (in some cases undesirable regulations) set by drug regulators are another challenge on the way to new developments. However, there is a glimmer of hope as the situation changes as the government takes the initiative to promote and control nanomedical research (new guidelines for nanomedicine, defined Oct. 24, 2019) and fund nanomedical research. Nanopharmaceuticals are expected to capture a sizable segment of the current drug market and the new guidelines will help the Indian pharmaceutical industry.