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Home > Nanotechnology Columns > NanotechnologyKTN > Nano4Life 2013 Conference: Post event report

Fiona Brewer

In May 2013, the NanoKTN hosted its annual Nano4Life conference at Regents College London, co-organised in partnership with the British Society for Nanomedicine. Now in its fifth year, the Nano4Life conference examines the convergence of nanotechnology and healthcare, providing perspectives from clinicians, industrialists and leading researchers, who work with, develop and endorse nanotechnologies.

The one day event brought together the four Focus Groups of the NanoKTN's Healthcare and Life Science Theme: NanoPharm, NanoMed, NanoRegen and NiMeD.

July 8th, 2013

Nano4Life 2013 Conference: Post event report

Over the past decade we have seen the very significant role that nanotechnologies are playing within the life science industry. With further collaboration between the key players in the supply chain, we can expect to drive forward the convergence of nanotechnology and healthcare to deliver even more impact.

Initial feedback from the event has been very positive with delegates leaving with a better understanding of the nanotechnologies available, the impacts that nanotechnology is delivering within the healthcare industries and an examination of any gaps in the supply chain necessary for commercial and clinical success.

Nano4Life also delivered a number of interactions between industry players to encourage collaboration to fulfil the benefits that can be realised from the implementation of this novel and exciting science in the healthcare sector.

Below is a brief overview of the keynotes and presentations made at Nano4Life 2013. The presentations from the event can be found in full on the NanoKTN website and are available to members of the NanoKTN. Membership is free of charge.

Nano4Life 2013 Presentations

Prof. Pete Dobson, Academic Director, Begbroke Science Park set the scene for the day, opening the conference with a keynote presentation on ‘Converging Nanotechnology with the Life Science Industry'. His presentation highlighted how nanotechnology can be used to enhance medical imaging and allow for the targeted delivery of drugs or physical therapy to specific sites in the body. However, there are still many hurdles to overcome in creating a truly new and sustainable "business" and his talk introduced the themes and challenges ahead.

A further keynote was delivered by Prof. Ruth Duncan, Professor of Cell Biology & Drug Delivery on ‘Nanomedicine(s) - Translating Nanoscience into Clinical Benefit'. Prof. Duncan provided an excellent overview of the current status of nanomedicines and pointed out that to aid the second and future generations, it is important that we build on scientific and regulatory history. Coupling this with the growing understanding of the pharmacokinetics of nanomedicines and the use of preclinical in vitro and in vivo models and increased industrial acceptance of 'companion' diagnostics we can begin to realise the healthcare benefits of emerging nanomedicines.

Other presentations were delivered during the day from leading players in the nanotechnology life science industry:

Prometheus and I: Building Organs from Stem Cells: Prof. Martin Birchall, Professor of Laryngology, UCL & Consultant in ENT Surgery, Royal National Throat Nose and Ear Hospital

Prof. Birchall gave his clinical perspective on regenerative medicine and details of the first-in-man successes with stem-cell based tracheal replacements in adults and children. Whilst these achievements suggest great promise for such therapies, there are still scientific, practical, financial and ethical challenges that need to be addressed in order for more technologies to reach the clinic.

Proliferate™ - A Novel Bioresorbable 3D Scaffold with Applications in Regenerative Medicine, Wound Care & Cell Culture: Dr Donald Wellings, Chief Executive Officer, Spheritech Ltd

Spheritech has developed a novel biopolymer, Proliferate™ that has found many applications, amongst them is the formation of self-assembled macroporous biodegradable constructs specifically designed to support 3D cell culture. Dr Don Wellings provided a comprehensive overview of this technology.

Development of High Performance Tissue Scaffolds for Mechanically Demanding Tissue Repair: Dr Nick Skaer, Chief Executive Officer, Orthox Ltd

Orthox Limited offers a pipeline of exceptionally strong orthopaedic implants based on a tissue regenerative protein extracted from commercially sourced silk fibres. Dr Nick Skaer provided insight into how they have developed their lead product FibroFix™ Meniscus through preclinical trials highlighting the challenges experienced in developing a compelling preclinical data set in a demanding indication, and implementing GMP compliant manufacture in-house.

Challenges and Opportunities for the Development of Long-Acting Antiretrovirals: the View of the Clinician: Dr Marta Boffito, Consultant Physician, Chelsea and Westminster Hospital & Clinical Lead in Clinical Trials, St. Stephen's AIDS Trust

Dr Marta Boffito provided a clinical perspective as to the challenges faced in terms of treating patients with HIV, which can be overcome through using novel formulations which provide slow release of anti-HIV medications thus move to more infrequent dosing. Scientific and safety challenges still need to be addressed fully but initial results look promising.

Using Nanomedicines to Improve Therapeutic Index of Drugs: Dr Marianne Ashford, Principal Scientist, AstraZeneca

Dr Marianne Ashford gave an overview of nanomedicines, which included some recent progress, illustrate case studies where such technology has been adopted to improve the therapeutic index of drugs as well as provide some thoughts on potential applications for the future.

Nanotechnology and Endocrinology - Can Nano help Endo?: Tom Kurzawinski, Consultant Pancreatic & Endocrine Surgeon, University College and Great Ormond Street Hospitals

Tom Kurzawinski presented his perspective on how clinical endocrinology will greatly benefit from continuing to pursue a multidisciplinary culture and explored areas of converging interests ranging from ultrafast hormone measurements guiding surgical interventions to the possibility of nano-machines repairing faulty genes and building new organs.

Medical Device Engineering and Characterisation at the Nanoscale: Dr Syed Tofail, Department of Physics & Energy & Materials and Surface Science Institute (MSSI), University of Limerick, Ireland

Two European projects: BioElectricSurface and LANIR that address number of questions related to the field of Nanomedicine were presented by Dr Syed Tofail.

Nanomaterials in Medical Devices - Challenges on the Route to Market: Dr Eric Mayes, CEO, Endomagnetics Limited

Endomagnetics is addressing cancer staging and healthcare challenges through the application of advanced magnetic sensing technology and nanotechnology. Dr Mayes outlined the various challenges in commercialising its products from the regulatory environment, to supply chain quality and scaling to clinical validation and market access.

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