The ‘NanoPharm’ Central Innovation Programme for SMEs (ZIM) network is a platform created to enable its members to identify future-oriented fields of research at an early stage, allowing them to collaborate and work profitably in these areas. The aim of the network is to develop new safer and more effective pharmaceutical products, cosmetics and dietary supplements. The work is based on the findings of two forward-looking technologies, which complement each other perfectly: nanotechnology and pharmacology.
As is the case with nanotechnology, pharmacology is an interdisciplinary science. Both interlink aspects from different natural sciences, such as chemistry, biology and physics. Pharmacology is concerned with the properties, effect, development, testing, manufacture and sale of pharmaceutical products and, analogous to nanotechnology, with natural molecular nutrients (proteins, enzymes, etc.), the sizes of which lie within the nanometer range. In the same way as nanotechnology, pharmacology demands exact knowledge of the location where the processes take place.
The development of new drugs does not only require that the active agents contained therein ‘work’ but also that they reach those parts of the body, in which they are needed. The agents must overcome barriers to find their way into the body, be guided inside the body and not be destroyed on their way. They must know exactly where they are needed and must also remain where they are needed. The effect of an agent should not and, indeed, must not take effect until it has reached the diseased area. The greater the control of the process, the smaller quantity of the agent is required with the result that fewer drugs need to be administered. This reduces side effects and saves on the agent, which in turn makes both the drugs and the processes more economical. These are all key areas of our collaborative networking.
The most direct method to administer an active agent is by injection. However, this procedure is invasive, painful and not at all popular with patients. The aim of the network activities is to develop alternatives. Nanotechnology offers one key to success as it provides new possibilities to customize drugs by specifying the size and morphology and modifying the surface in such a way that they can overcome barriers produced naturally in the body.
Drugs, cosmetics or dietary supplements – whatever the product, the customization of active agents and processes at molecular level promises the solution to many problems and will lead to many new products.