The Economist, one of the more worthy media sources these days for connecting technology to larger society, included a page on nanomedicine in its special issue, “The World in 2013.” (page 128). The article is by Professors Omid Farokhzad and Rober Langer and focuses on bio nanotechnology from BIND Biosciences. BIND recently announced a development deal with Amgen. Professor Langer is a founder of BIND and Professor Farokhzad also works closely with BIND (according to the BIND Web page). The technology is for polymeric nanoparticles which smartly carry a payload. Cancer treatment is a leading application. Patenting is an important part of the company strategy per their press releases and web page content.
The attached link has information for an upcoming nanomedicine conference in April in Spain.
Lets hope more deals are in the works for nanomedicine as 2013 moves ahead into the market place from academic research. Venture capital is an important part of this story.
The September 3, 2012 issue of C&EN discusses what it calls an “onslaught of nanotech drugs coming down the pike” for FDA review. See article entitled “Mapping Nanotech Drugs’ Landscape,” pp. 46, 48.
The FDA is generating a database for nanotech drugs and currently has 158 entries according to the article. The leading application area is cancer treatment (38%). Most are developed to be administered intravenously (56%). The leading types of formulation are liposomes (39%) and nanoparticles (27%).
The FDA will hold a public workshop in the coming months to get input from stakeholders for how to improve the review process.
The US patent literature confirms the role of nanotechnology innovation in cancer treatment. Of the currently published nanotechnology class 977 patent filings (there are 13,814 of them), 1.9% of them refer to cancer in the title or abstract. Considering the breadth of nanotechnology and bio nanotechnology, this is a significant fraction. Also, 4.3% of them refer to cancer in the title, abstract, or claim. Finally, 14.3% of them mention cancer in the patent somewhere.
Patent filings which refer to hydraulic fracturing are on the rise. In fact, the number appears to have almost doubled in the past five years. This is based on a review of the published patent applications at the USPTO web site. In 2012, pro-rated as of today, there should be about 473 patent applications publishing. In 2007, that number was only 246. From 2008-2010, the number rose to about 355 each year, and then rose dramatically in 2011 to 421.
Nanotechnology continues to be a source of innovation in this and related technologies. See, for example, Abstract below US Patent Publication 2012/0190598 published July 26, 2012 to Pure Liquid Solutions, LLC, on “Metallic Nanoparticle Biocide in Industrial Applications.”
AbstractA method includes providing and adding a measured dose amount of manufactured metallic nanoparticle material to a carrier material for pre-treatment of the carrier material prior to use of the carrier material and the manufactured metallic nanoparticle material in the sub-surface earth activity. Another method includes accessing a sub-surface earth opening used with a sub-surface earth activity, introducing an amount of manufactured metallic nanoparticle material into the sub-surface earth opening, and treating a sub-surface earth condition present at a sub-surface earth location accessible via the sub-surface earth opening. The sub-surface earth condition is treated with the manufactured metallic nanoparticle material. Another method includes accessing a product from a sub-surface earth location that is extracted in conjunction with the sub-surface earth activity, measuring and introducing a dose amount of manufactured metallic nanoparticle material with the product from the sub-surface earth location.
The popular news webpage msnbc.com is featuring an article in their health section on bio nanotechnology with headline, “Gene healing in a lotion? Researchers say they’re close.” Northwestern University research is highlighted, coming from the laboratories of Professor Chad Mirkin.
The technology, as you can read, relates to siRNA methods. This an active area of nanotechnology with potentially blockbuster results to impress the public mind (revolution, not evolution). For example, I noted that terms like siRNA, RNAi, and miRNA appear in 3.4% of the class 977 patent publications published to date (440 out of 12,982). Also, a review article including IP and interference technologies and nanobio has been posted on the web.
Have been reading the 2011 book, Bottled Lightning, Superbatteries, Electric Cars, and the New Lithium Economy, by Seth Fletcher. An excellent read for anyone interested in cleantech and nanotech commercialization. The focus is on the lithium ion battery and its scientific, engineering, and manufacturing history. Also, its application to the electric car. The need for high energy density batteries at good cost is a fundamental challenge for nanotechnology (e.g., development nanophosphate battery packs). High surface area is a key parameter directly linked to nanotechnology. The book also draws attention to patent and licensing issues which was interesting. Much bang-for-the buck in this 215 page paperback – enjoy! Here is one public review.
Also, was at the US PTO Cleantech Customer Partnership Meeting this week. In the technical presentation, focus was more on wind and solar.
However, advanced batteries continue to be a critical aspect for cleantech and one of its flagship products, the electric car.
Interesting example yesterday for how nanotechnology is presented to the public and forming part of our educational systems, including EHS aspects. We visited Virginia Tech for the day as part of my daughter’s evaluation of prospective colleges. Our interests included their engineering departments. In their visitor building, where the tours start, Virginia Tech includes presentation material for several nanotechnology-related issues the university is working on. One was for how nanoparticles can be transported in the environment over long distances. The lead professor is in Geosciences, and collaboration is present with civil and environmental engineering professors. Virginia Tech promotes a “hands-on, minds-on” approach to training its undergrads in engineering, and they indicate that undergraduate research will be part of the project.
Below has more information about the NSF grant on the subject:
Researchers from geosciences and civil and environmental engineering at Virginia Tech are part of a consortium of four principal universities and five other schools awarded a multimillion dollar grant to study nanotechnology and the environment. This is one of only two such consortiums funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) to form a national Center for the Environmental Implications of Nanotechnology (CEIN). Total funding for the project is $14 million over five years with an opportunity to renew for another five years. Virginia Tech’s portion of the grant is $1.75 million.
I pass on some information which stems from a conference I attended in December on federal research programs in nanotechnology (NNI at Ten event), which also included nanotech work at the National Cancer Institute (NCI). In case you want to read more on nanotech approaches to winning the war on cancer, the NCI also published recently an excellent 11-page review article.
Part I of the article provides background and program achievements. For example, US research centers are given in Figure 1. The number of cancer and nanotechnology research articles in 2009 has more than tripled since 2003 (Figure 2). Research relates to diagnostics, therapy, drug delivery, assays, imaging, etc. About 50 commercial entities are involved with this effort in addition to the fundamental university, hospital, and federal laboratory work.
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The important and controversial story of the discovery of "nanobacteria" was recently summarized in the book, Every Living Thing, Man’s Obsessive Quest to Catalog Life, from Nanobacteria to New Monkeys (by Rob Dunn, 2009). Readers interested in how nanotechnology may impact human health should monitor this subject. What is the role of nanoparticles in our bodies, difficult to detect and characterize, in our human health?
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Environmental, health, and safety issues are a top priority for nanotech now, as reflected in presentations at the NNI at Ten event in DC last week. Now, we can review and comment at www.nano.gov the draft “National Nanotechnology Initiative 2011 Environmental, Health, and Safety Strategy,” which is only 106 pages.
I could not help but connect this with recent media coverage about air quality, including small particulates, in Western Pennsylvania. In that coverage, the quote “Our particles aren’t as bad as your particles” comes from and reflects the comparison between relative harm for particles emitted from coal-fired power plants and vehicular exhaust.
Particular (no pun intended) issues stem from particles less than 2.5 microns which covers the nanodomain (they are called PM2.5). The EPA webpage refers to studies from the 1990′s about these tiny particles.
So hopefully the NNI EHS document builds on what is already known about particles in the air from cars and coal. The PM2.5 are not nanoengineered per se but in figuring out what to do with nano-EHS, one should not ignore PM2.5. Gritty public health and economic issues apply to both.
Nano biotechnology innovations offer some of the more promising opportunities for the development of medical imaging and diagnostic tools. According to U.S. Patent Application Publication No. 2009/0324706, assigned on its face to Northwestern University, gold-nanoparticles can be used to direct the synthesis of structures on which lippid bilayers may be supported. Because the lippid structures sequester cholesterol, the structures can be imaged in localized regions within a blood vessel where plaque may be present.
AuraSense LLC, a Northwestern University start-up founded by Chad Mirkin (listed as an inventor in the 2009/0324706 publication), has recently received a $2.5 million investment to commercialize its cholesterol sequestering technology that can be used to image cholesterol hot-spots. Such an investment in a university start-up may be seen as evidence that investment rounds are proceeding after a dismal 2009. Indeed, more investments like these will help keep American innovation primed with job growth and exciting new nanotech- and nano biotechnology-based products.