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Drug Discovery World
Nanomedicines - exploring the past, present and future
By Professor Yvonne Perrie & Dr Euan Ramsay

Nanoparticles, and liposomes in particular, are growing in popularity as drug delivery vehicles for anti-cancer agents and inflammatory disease therapies, as well as forming the basis of a new class of vaccines.

They offer a number of advantages in terms of stability, efficacy and off-target effects, but traditional manufacturing methods are labour-intensive, hard to reproduce and difficult to scale up. This has contributed to a widely-held perception in the pharmaceutical industry that nanomedicines are far from clinically practical. A new generation of microfluidic systems is helping to overcome these issues, allowing the rapid development and seamless scale-up of novel nanoparticles. This technology is transforming the development and manufacture of a range of nanoparticle formulations from a hit-and-miss affair into a standardised process, accelerating novel nanomedicines from the bench to the clinic.

Nanoparticles comprised of polymers or lipids can be used to encapsulate biological or small molecule active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) for drug delivery. This approach offers a number of advantages over traditional drug formulations, principally that the API is protected from harsh extracellular environmental conditions in vivo, allowing delivery of the intact API into the target tissues, cells and sub-cellular compartments, while shielding it from chemical or enzymatic degradation. Correspondingly, nanoparticles can be used to prevent highly toxic APIs – such as the cytotoxic agents used in cancer therapies – from causing off-target unwanted side-effects....

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