EU project to study impact of nanomedicine on healthcare

25 February 2009

The EU-funded NANOMED project aims to look at all aspects of nanomedicine and provide an objective answer to claims that this rapidly evolving field will change the face of healthcare forever.

NANOMED will for the first time look at all aspects — economic, patient attitudes, regulatory, ethics and communication — and enable EU policy makers to properly direct what has already been identified a major area for strategic investment in the new Framework V11 programme.

Chairing the project is Sir John Beringer, who also chaired the groundbreaking UK CST report on nanotechnology.

Sir John said: "Even if we don't see the nanorobots of Fantastic Voyage fame for a few years, nanomedicine still has immense short term potential to impact all of our lives. Working at the nanoscale is already leading to new highly targeted medicines, improved imaging and diagnostics of disease and even a new generation of implantable sensors for monitoring your health.

"Therefore I am delighted the EU recognises the importance of having a strategic approach to its development. In this project I believe we have managed to assemble a team with both the experience and understanding to create what I believe will be a unique report covering all aspects.

"For example we aim to have the first accurate projections of market size and potential — to date this has been impossible with many companies using nanomedicine, but not describing themselves as such.

"Discussions on regulatory aspects of nanotechnology are also now reaching the stage where we can make meaningful conclusions as to the need for either extending existing or creating new regulations.

"A further interesting aspect is that the current economic crisis seems certain increase public interest in policy making and funding priorities and a case will need to made for nanomedicine.

"The final members of working parties are being recruited and the final report will be presented at the end of the year ."

Project background

Much has been forecast and published about the major impact which nanotechnology will have in the medical field. As, for example, the Nanomedicine, Nanotechnology for Health European Technology Platform Strategic Research Agenda for Nanomedicine published in November 2006 commenced by saying: “Nanomedicine, the application of nanotechnology in healthcare, offers numerous very promising possibilities to significantly improve medical diagnosis and therapy, leading to an affordable higher quality of life for everyone. At the same time nanomedicine is a strategic issue for the sustainable competitiveness of Europe.”

This has led to the view within the EU that, although very promising, nanomedicine may add new dimensions to many ethical, social and economic issues.

For the promises to be realised to achieve the maximum benefit of nanomedical innovations for everyone the way has to be paved for a safe, integrated and responsible approach to nanomedicine.

This will also be a necessary condition for the sustainable competitiveness of nanomedical research and development in Europe, and for its healthcare industry. It is therefore of primary importance to understand its possible impacts and consequences in advance and to provide for all stakeholders a well-organised forum to express their needs and requirements, in particular for patients and society.

Nanomed has thus been funded to to provide to European stakeholders a set of recommendations to support decision making regarding nanomedical innovations. These recommendations will be based on a thorough analysis of existing documents, multi-stakeholder debate, and construction of scenarios on the possible consequences and impacts of nanomedicine.

For more information on the project:

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