Steve G Papermaster, Nano Chairman: Cancer Research and Nanotechnology

Steve G Papermaster, Nano chairman and CEO, leads a company that is transforming modern medicine through its groundbreaking advancements in nanotechnology. This article will focus on the field of cancer research, exploring how nanotech innovations could pave the way for the development of smarter and more effective cancer diagnostics and treatments that have less adverse effects on patients than conventional cancer therapies.

To date, cancer remains one of the biggest challenges in medicine. The disease is the world’s leading cause of death, accounting for almost 10 million deaths in 2020 – equating to almost one in every six mortalities. Out of all the different known types of cancer, lung cancer is the most common, causing 1.8 million deaths globally between 2020 and 2021.

Accounting for one in five cancer deaths worldwide, lung cancer is regarded by medical experts as one of the most challenging cancer types to manage. A World Health Organization report revealed that lung cancer is the sixth most common cause of death globally, causing 1.8% of total mortalities. Worryingly, experts predict that incidences of lung cancer could increase by almost 50% over the next two decades, with this sharp increase driven by drastic changes in environmental conditions, as well as exposure to radiation and pollutants and unhealthy lifestyles.

However, researchers now believe that developments in nanotechnology could help them to overcome some of the limitations associated with conventional lung cancer therapeutics. Of the conventional treatments available today, including surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy and biological therapy, effectiveness is less where the disease has reached an advanced stage or metastasized by presentation. In recent years, researchers have turned their attention to the development of new molecules and modes of drug delivery with the aim of enhancing efficacy while simultaneously reducing toxicity.

Mesothelioma is a challenging type of cancer to treat, since the disease is often diagnosed during its later stages after it has metastasized. A team of German researchers are currently using nanoimaging to facilitate rapid, early and accurate diagnosis of mesothelioma, using tiny images less than 100 nanometers across and putting them together to make an image with ultra-high contrast. Providing quick and accurate results, the study suggests that nanotechnology could pave the way for faster diagnosis and more effective treatments, with less adverse effects.

Nanotechnology involves the use of nanomaterials for targeted therapy. Due to their multifaceted features and properties, nanoparticles have emerged as promising diagnostic and treatment candidates, potentially enabling researchers to overcome chemical and biological barriers within the human body and presenting scope for increased efficacy.

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