Nanotechnology can be defined simply as science, technology and engineering conducted at the nanoscale: that is the scale of the exceptionally small. It is generally assumed to cover objects from approximately one to 100 nanometres (10-9 to 10-7m) in length.
This increasingly important branch of technology is now being applied to many therapeutic areas, with oncology perhaps the most advanced. Nano World Cancer Day, held on 2 February at the University of Liverpool’s headquarters in central London, showcased recent developments in nanotechnology that should soon begin to benefit cancer patients.
This London meeting was one of 15 held simultaneously across Europe, including several countries outside the EU. The whole event was organised jointly by the European Technology Platform for Nanomedicine (ETPN) and a Horizon 2020 project, ENATRANS (Enabling NAnomedicine TRANSlation). Each meeting was introduced with the same welcome video from the chair of ETPN, Patrick Boisseau, who briefly explained how nanotechnology is benefiting cancer patients; this is, however, still an area of significant unmet medical need.
The welcome video was incorporated into a short presentation that outlined the scale and nature of the industry in Europe and neighbouring countries. Over 2000 companies and organisations in the region are involved in nanomedicine, and about 120 of these are full members of the ETPN. It recently published a detailed strategy for incorporating nanotechnology into healthcare that covers the period 2016-2030 and includes oncology among its highlighted disciplines.