Skip navigation

University College Dublin Logo

Advanced Search

UCD News

Nuacht UCD

Posted: 29 August 2008

Nanomedicines Set To Revolutionise Drug Treatments

Over the next ten years the interface between bioengineering and nanotechnology is set to bring about revolutionary new treatment methods for diseases such as cancer and arthritis.
Some 120 delegates from Asia, Europe, South America and the US who recently attended the SBE 4th International Conference on Bioengineering & Nanotechnology at the O’Reilly Hall, UCD, heard speakers outline the advances being made in nanomedicines and nanosystems for drug delivery. It is a field which is bringing together frontier science and technology.

Pictured far right: Professor Nicholas Abbott of the University of Wisconsin, Co-Chair with the other Co-Chair, UCD Professor Gil Lee, SFI Stokes Professor of Bionanoscience and UCD President, Dr Hugh Brady, who opened the SBE 4th International Conference on Bioengineering & Nanotechnology. The conference outlined to delegates the advances being made in nanomedicines and nanosystems for drug delivery.

This year is the first year that the conference has been held in Europe and it was organised around three key themes:

  1. Nanomedicines and nanosystems for drug delivery
  2. Tools for the study and characterization of biological systems derived from nanoscopic phenomena and devices
  3. The use of nanostructured materials for the delivery of biochemical and biophysical cues that stimulate cellular functions.

According to the conference organisers, the programme of speakers was designed so as to promote a dialogue regarding the balance of opportunity and risk that accompanies nanoscience and nanobiotechnology as well as the need for responsible science policy. “Knowledge is coming out of the intersection of bioengineering and nanotechnology,” according to Professor Gil Lee, SFI Stokes Professor of Bionanoscience at UCD.

One of the keynote speakers, Professor Ruth Duncan of Cardiff University and Director of the Centre for Polymer Therapeutics, spoke about her research into nanopharmaceuticals which is producing drug delivery systems and biologically active drug products. Three of her drugs are currently in phase II of testing. If they successfully come through phase III, these new nanomedicines should ultimately prove a more effective treatment for cancer. Professor Duncan’s research seeks to use nanomedicines in nanometre size, which should prove to be a more effective system of delivering the drug unit to the affected cell because as nanoparticles, they can target the affected area more readily than normal drugs, which are often too big and powerful. In time, it is hoped, they will herald in a more effective therapeutic.

Another keynote speaker, Professor Jeffrey Hubbell of the Laboratory for Regenerative Medicine and Pharmacobiology, Integrative Biosciences Institute, Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Switzerland, is working on a drug delivery treatment for arthritis.

His area is polymer chemistry and cell biology with applications in tissue engineering and drug delivery. Through his innovation he hopes to utilise what could be termed as ‘intelligent molecules’ to deliver drugs to specific parts of the tissue affected by arthritis, such as the cartilage. The research he is undertaking seeks to create a system whereby the nanomedicine is embedded in and delivered more slowly and thus more effectively.

The work of conference’s keynote speaker, Professor Jérôme Bibette of the Ecole Supérieure de Physique et Chimie Industrielles de la ville de Paris, (ESPCI) has been described as “visionary”. He is currently developing a very practical way to identify and measure diseases. This new diagnostic takes advantage of technology through the adaptation of magnetic particles for diagnosis, a method termed “superparamagnetism”. Simply put, these magnetic particles are used to ‘capture’ the molecules of a virus and allow them to be identified and counted in a more accurate way.

The conference on Bioengineering & Nanotechnology was supported by the Science Foundation of Ireland, University College Dublin and the National Science Foundation. Representatives from Enterprise Ireland, Novartis and other biotechnology companies also attended.

>> More News and Events
<< Back to Home

Nanomedicines Set To Revolutionise Drug Treatments