Nanomedicine's health hope

(Nanowerk News) New nanotechnology-based treatments, including nerve tissue engineering that draws on the limb-regrowing ability of the axolotl, and techniques for targeted attacks on ovarian and lung cancer, were discussed at a major nanomedicine conference in Sydney last week.
Treatments for cancer, tissue regeneration and disease detection were presented at the Sydney 2011 International Nanomedicine Conference, organised by the University of New South Wales and held at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Coogee, from Thursday, July 14 to Saturday, July 16.
More than 50 researchers from academia and industry, including former Australian of the Year Professor Ian Frazer, are presenting at the conference, the largest of its kind in Australia.
Conference co-chair Professor Tom Davis said the conference, the first sponsored by the new Australian Centre for Nanomedicine at UNSW, was a vital forum for researchers, surgeons and clinicians to discuss latest developments in a field with the potential to revolutionise medicine.
"Nanomedicine is an interdisciplinary field that brings together engineering, science and medicine and will create breakthrough treatments for disease and injury," Professor Davis said.
Conference presentations included:
- Work by Dr Helder Marcal, of the Australian Centre for Nanomedicine and UNSW's School of Biotechnology and Biomolecular Sciences, which looks at cells that enable the axolotl, also known as the Mexican walking fish, to regrow limbs. His team is incorporating the human equivalent of molecules identified in regenerative tissues into a suture-replacing bioadhesive with the potential to improve outcomes from spinal cord injuries.
- Research by Associate Professor Martina Stenzel, of the UNSW Centre for Advanced Macromolecular Design, on the design of nanospheres to enable targeted delivery of an anti-cancer drug, Albendazole. Albendazole, used as a treatment for worms, was recently found to be effective against ovarian cancer. Nanomedicine can reduce drug dosage and side-effects.
- Work by Dr Joshua McCarroll, of the Children's Cancer Institute Australia for Medical Research, investigating the use of nanoparticles in delivering gene-silencing therapies to enhance chemotherapy treatment of aggressive lung cancer.
Nanomedicine exploits the improved and often novel physical, chemical and biological properties of materials at the nanometre scale – particles measured in millionths of a millimetre. It has the potential to enable early detection and prevention, and improve diagnosis, treatment and follow-up of diseases.
Source: University of New South Wales