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Posted: February 1, 2007
Report outlines vision for nanomedicine in Europe
(Nanowerk News) With mankind still fighting serious diseases such as cancer, diabetes, AIDS and cardiovascular diseases, the application of nanotechnology to health has huge potential in terms of developing new diagnostic, treatment and preventive methods.
Recognising this potential and the leading role played by Europe in this novel technology, the European Commission launched a European Technology Platform on nanomedicine, with the goal of defining a European Strategic Research Agenda on nanomedicine.
The main aim of the vision paper, entitled Nanomedicine - Nanotechnology for Health (pdf download, 3.5 MB), is to put forward a sound basis for decision making processes for policy makers and funding agencies, providing an overview of needs and challenges, existing technologies and future opportunities in nanomedicine.
Several areas of medical care are already benefiting from the advantages that nanotechnology can offer, from nano based targeted drug delivery systems to diagnostics and regenerative medicine. But many issues still need to be addressed.
The Strategic Research Agenda (SRA) takes into consideration education and training, ethical requirements, the benefit/risk assessment, public acceptance, the regulatory framework and intellectual property issues, for the benefit of regulatory bodies in EU Member States, candidate countries and associated states.
The Strategic Research Agenda sets disease-oriented priorities setting using such parameters as mortality rate, the level of suffering that an illness imposes on a patient, the burden on society, the prevalence of the disease and the impact that nanotechnology might have to diagnose and overcome certain illnesses. These criteria led to the following priority list: cardiovascular diseases, cancer, musculoskeletal disorders, neurodegenerative diseases and psychiatric conditions, diabetes and bacterial and viral infectious diseases.
Although the European Commission started to fund projects in the area of nanomedicine more than 10 years ago, its funding of nanomedicine projects strongly increased to €250 million under the NMP programme (nanotechnology, materials, processes) of the Sixth Framework Programme.
The Commission is now preparing to channel some €100 million into nanomedicine projects annually under its Seventh Framework Programme for research (2007-2013).
Meanwhile the European Group on Ethics has published an opinion on nanomedicine, specifying that safety concerns should be a priority in the development of new techniques and treatments (see Nanowerk News "Experts tell EU to prop up ethics in nanomedicine").