First Workshop on Nanomedicine for Infectious Diseases of Poverty, 2731 March 2011, Magaliesberg, South Africa
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An international workshop on nanomedicine for infectious diseases related to poverty was held in Magaliesberg, South Africa from 2731 March 2011. The meeting was organised by Dr Hulda Swai, chair of the nanotechnology programme at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CISR), a multidisciplinary science and research institute established in 1945 and funded by the South Africa Department of Science and Technology and Economic Commission for Africa (ECA). CSIR is one of two SA government-funded centres with nanomedicine programmes (the other is MINTEC). About 70 delegates from 20 countries attended the workshop.
Nanotechnology is being used in many different aspects of medical care including therapeutics, new drug delivery systems, diagnostics, imaging and surgical procedures. This article principally focuses on new formulations of drugs and drug delivery systems. Nanomedicine -- the application of nanotechnology to medicine -- has a relevance for HIV and related infections that rarely gets much attention.
Most of the focus on pipeline drugs for HIV and TB is on new compounds or new oral formulations of already approved drugs. However, for the last fifteen years various laboratories have been working with nanoformulations of antriretrovirals, though none have yet resulted in new medicines.
The simplest explanation of nanomedicine is based on a size ranging from 10-100 nm, though the EU definition has an upper range of 1000 nm. One nanometer is one-billionth of a meter (the width of about five atoms). See Table 1.
At this scale particles have different physical properties relating to surface to volume ratio, surface tension, surface charge and quantum dot effect and this can enhance drug bioavailability and solubility. Engineering molecules to target specific cellular and tissue targets has the potential to overcome barriers to sanctuary sites including the blood-brain barrier. Although nanotechnology is generally associated with the concept of the smaller particles, nanomedicine is actually based on drug formulations that are larger that pure drug molecules.
Note: relative size from 10 (0) to 10 (-10) is similar to comparing the size of the world to a golf-ball.
Attaching compounds to larger molecules or encapsulating them inside other molecules can deliver a drug to the target site more accurately. This can overcome one of the main limitations of current oral formulations, where over 90% of medicines are excreted unused.
These improvements include:
However, while the potential benefits are promising, they also bring significant challenges to safety and regulatory approval.
This article was provided by HIV i-Base. It is a part of the publication HIV Treatment Bulletin. Visit HIV i-Base's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.
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