The most exciting new developments in nano technology is the revolutionary approaches to the development of new ways to treat cancer. This new technology will also probably be used to develop new antibiotics and new imaging of diseased tissue both in the operating room and in the imaging department.
The development of true Nano Technology has become involved with the development of both biological technology the harnessing of microorganisms to develop complex products more efficiently than can be developed by other means or to produce mechanical solutions that are faster smaller and self-repairing than might be produced otherwise. However, an expanded view of this sector of the marketplace would also be the production of new molecules or compounds whose application to problems in both medicine and science give us the ability to evaluate and treat problems or diseases in a manner and at a cost that was hither to unavailable. One of the areas where we see this evolving perhaps in a non-classical manner is in the development of new imaging materials and processes in medicine. Recently a joint venture between MIT and MSKCC has produced a new class of functionality in complex antibody molecules with multiple attachment sites. This new class of molecule has the ability to have several different antigen like fragments attached to it and therefore can be used to specifically bind to a select type of cell. For example it can have an anti-lung cancer antibody attached to it so that if injected into a patient it will bind primarily to cells that have expressed the abnormal lung antigen. The other “arm” of the molecule can have either an imaging agent or a therapeutic agent so that the patient can receive a treatment that would require substantially less toxic material while substantially increasing the local level of toxic material at the disease sight and leaving healthy tissue virtually unharmed. This type of ligand chemistry is now evolved to the point of being developed into a series of anti-neoplastic drugs but in theory the use of this type of mechanism and the development of this type of carrier molecule has much wider implications than just anti neoplastic applications.
We live in a world of increasingly resistant microbes. Not only are the microbes resistant to the normal approach but the cost of the new tertiary antibiotics have become increasingly expensive with serious side effects and even potentially increased implication in the developing epidemic of inflammatory diseases. The new carrier molecule may in the future be able to be harnessed as an agent in the attaching to offending organism and having the second “arm” attached once again to antibacterial agent. This approach is somewhat similar to the old fashioned “quelling” reactions used to identify and treat pneumococcal infections used in the days before antibiotics. While this specific application has yet to be developed it is clear that conceptionally such use of the technology is not beyond reason.
Another application of this technology is to attach a florescent molecule in the place of an imaging agent. This would permit surgeons to identify diseased tissue intraoperatively and lead to a greater success rate when surgical intervention were to be used as part of a treatment regimen.
Because of the very different applications of this technology it would seem that the most efficient manner to approach this type of development would be to set each of the projects under a different division of a company with different budgets and potentially different funding. This is especially important to consider the structure in this case because the best partner might be different for each of these applications.