“The association between biotechnology and nanotechnology will favor the appearance of new and much more effective products for combating malaria, leprosy, tuberculosis, AIDS, certain types of hepatitis and some kinds of cancer”. This was the assurance that Prof. Juan Manuel Irache gave on the occasion of the 7th Congress of the Spanish-Portuguese Association for Controlled Drug Release. A total of 130 specialists from various countries analyzed these questions during the congress.
The use of these techniques will be highly useful in the area of vaccines, since some still present risks and inconveniences, and there are pathologies caused by various microorganisms which do not have an effective therapy. Another area in which these techniques will provide benefits is in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer.
In addition, a new system of drug delivery and release will play a large role in the development of the biotechnology product: It encapsulates the drug, and carries it to the site where it will have its curative or diagnostic effect. Therefore, with a smaller dose, the same effectiveness is achieved, and we avoid the accumulation of the drug in healthy tissues, which will eliminate many toxic and secondary effects.
In regards to the lines of research, the challenge resides in the design and evaluation of controlled-release systems that are able to specifically reach the site that we wish to treat. At the University of Navarra there have already been created nanoparticles associated with a molecule that is able to recognize a specified organ, tissue or group of cells.
Another strategy consists in imitating the behavior of certain bacteria and viruses. The nanoparticles are covered with components from the surfaces of the microorganisms, but with a curative or diagnostic purpose. Among the applications of this technique are vaccination and immunotherapy.
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