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Thursday, August 11, 2011 | Volume: 11220

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What are nanomedicines?

Nanomedicines are pharmaceuticals prepared by manipulating matter at the nanoscale (< 1000 nm); i.e. manipulations at less than 1000th of a millimetre, and for drug delivery applications this typically takes the form of creating nanoparticles (5 ~ 800 nm) which are then used to package drug molecules and genes. 

Alternatively some nanomedicines are created from the drug or more typically the pro-drug itself. 

However the vast majority of nanomedicines are the result of the packaging of pharmacologically active compounds within nanoparticles.

Nanomedicines are attractive in pharmacy and medicine simply because it is possible to control drug biodistribution and achieve therapeutic benefit with these nanomedicines. 

The chemical compounds used to construct these nanomedicines are as follows: low molecular weight self assembling amphiphiles, self assembling amphiphilic polymers, polymer – drug conjugates, water insoluble polymers/ cross-linked polymers, dendrimers, inorganic chemistries and carbon nanotubes. 

Sophisticated engineering of these particles has produced nanomedicines which target drugs to tumours and the brain. 

Targeting is achieved by passive means in which the nanomedicine simply exploits normal endogenous transport mechanisms or alternatively is achieved by using targeting ligands to direct therapeutics to areas of pathology. 

To date the former strategy has proven to be more effective than the latter. 

Nanomedicines are also capable of promoting oral drug absorption and drug transport across other biological barriers such as the cornea and skin. 

Only a few of these technologies are commercially available at present, such as: liposomes, low molecular weight micelles and polymer – drug conjugates, but the therapeutic benefits being observed in both preclinical studies and early clinical testing suggest that more of these technologies will emerge into the patient arena in the future.

(Source:nanomerics)


 

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