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Home > Nanotechnology Columns > NanotechnologyKTN > Nanotechnology in Life Sciences

Fiona Brewer

Nanotechnology is used in the development and manufacture of products in a number of different areas, including medicine, materials, electronics, coatings and energy saving technology, all with positive effects such as decreasing drug side-effects and improving sports equipment performance.

January 5th, 2010

Nanotechnology in Life Sciences

The future of nanotechnology has been at the centre of many discussions in recent years. Ideas have gone from the far-fetched and elaborate to more realistic patents with beneficial and revolutionary affects.

The UK biotech and pharmaceuticals industry is a major success story, with exports of 17.2 billion and a balance of trade of 6.0 billion in 2008. In order to ensure the UK remains a world leader in this area, Government, academia and industry must support the next wave of technology, which can deliver the products of the future. Nanotechnology is one area that promises to provide that innovation.

The NanoKTN has developed the NanoPharm special interest group (SIG) to look at the opportunities nanotech offers, what the barriers to adoption are, and to advise Government on strategy, funding and the needs of industry. The NanoPharm SIG is supported by a Steering Committee comprising of: AstraZeneca, Cyclofluidic, HealthTech & Medicines KTN, GSK, London School of Pharmacy, Pfizer and The Wellcome Trust.

In December 2009, the NanoKTN hosted its first NanoPharm SIG event, dedicated to exploring new ways of speeding the drug discovery process.

The NanoKTN aims to raise awareness of the current issues facing those working within the pharmaceuticals industry, including the obstacles faced by academia and business and does so by hosting events like this.

Presentations at the NanoPharm event explored key areas where nanotechnology offers the most opportunity to advance and improve product discovery and development and keep the UK a leading force in this exciting market. The event looked at examples of how nanotechnology has already been applied across a range of biomolecular interactions, along with an insight into the ways in which it can be integrated in the future.

Presentations can be downloaded by NanoKTN members only from the NanoKTN website at Membership of the NanoKTN is free and you can join online or request a membership form by emailing .

Following on from its objective to facilitate discussions in the life science sector, the NanoKTN has announced the date for its second Nano4Life conference. The event, to be held in London on February 4th 2010 and organised by the NanoKTN in collaboration with The Wellcome Trust, will explore the key areas within the life sciences where nanotechnology offers the opportunity to advance healthcare and improve product discovery and development.

The area of bionanotechnology is developing rapidly and there is no doubt that it will enhance our understanding of biology and how biological systems work. Nanotechnology is already being used to help resolve some of the pharma and biotech industries' significant problems and this one-day conference and exhibition, taking place in London on February 4th, will look at the ways nanotechnology in healthcare can ensure the UK is kept a leading force in this exciting area of technology.

Last year's Nano4Life event saw the attendance of 150 industry and academic professionals with the discussion of a number of key issues such as improvements in drug discovery processes, through miniaturisation, automation, speed and reliability.

The keynote presentation at the 2010 event will be delivered by Sir William Castell, Chairman of the Board of Governors at The Wellcome Trust. Other presentations come from Pharmidex Pharmaceutical Services Ltd, UCB, Royal Institution, Imperial College and QuantuMDx.

"Nanotechnology holds the promise to provide a significant number of healthcare advances and by hosting the Nano4Life event, we aim to explore the ways it will do this," explains Dr Mike Fisher, Theme Manager at the NanoKTN.

Fisher continues, "Nano4Life aims to provide an opportunity to showcase nanotechnology to the science community and provides an environment to catalyse new collaborations. By hosting Nano4Life, the NanoKTN aims to bring together clinicians, academic scientists and industry professionals to drive forward the development of these advances."

As with most technologies, nanotechnology will develop over time. It is still in its first phase of development and industry leaders believe major growth will occur between 2015 and 2035, providing the UK public, academia and research facilities support it now. A balance needs to be struck to ensure that the science moves forward, but does so carefully with public support. If the UK wants to remain a leading knowledge economy it cannot afford not to be at the forefront of nanotechnology.

All sectors of the supply chain are encouraged to register for Nano4Life 2010 including research-based pharma, biotech and medical device companies, academics, research policy makers and anyone who is interested in learning about what nanotechnology has to offer the life sciences. For more information please visit

For further information on the UK MNT community and the NanoKTN, please visit or email

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