Friday, March 1, 2013

Is the nanomedicine wave cresting?

The interdisciplinary field of nanomedicine has experienced a tremendous surge over the last decade. The potential implicit in applying the unique physical properties of nanomaterials to challenging problems in medical diagnosis and therapy has evoked great enthusiasm in the scientific community, the corporate world, and among the public. Many quantitative parameters indicate continuing rapid expansion of this field. Amidst this efflorescence of enthusiasm, however, there are a few voices of concern. 

For example, an article provocatively entitled “Cancer nanomedicines: So many papers and so few drugs! “ describes the difficult path for clinical development of nanoparticle-based drugs (1). Additionally a recent commentary in Nature Reviews Drug Discovery asks if the surging wave of nanomedicine is cresting. It mentions changes in funding prospects, growing realization about the limits of the technology, and problems inherent is the complexity and cost of nanomedicines.

Clearly nanomedicine remains an exciting and rapidly evolving field. However, it seems prudent to have a balanced view of its limitations as well as its potential, and not to oversell its benefits to the public.

Venditto, V. J. & Szoka, F. C. Jr. Cancer nanomedicines: So many papers so few drugs! Adv. Drug Deliv. Rev. 2013 Jan;65(1):80-8. doi: 10.1016/j.addr.2012.09.038. Epub 2012 Oct 1

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