Even though applications are numerous and varied, it is possible to define two major generations of nanomedicine.
The oncology revolution with nanomedicine
The first generation of nanomedicines involves improvements to existing approaches. These nanomedicines are overcoming some of the difficulties experienced by classical medical approaches in delivering the benefit of the drug molecules used. For example, the goal of drug (active substance) delivery systems or nanovectors is to improve the distribution of products within the body. This involves taking a pre-existing drug and applying it into nanoparticles to cultivate better delivery of the treatment. This can lead to drugs that have less toxic side-effects and/or drugs that are able to more efficiently reach their target in the human body. These approaches provide more effective tools, especially in cancer treatment, but do not change the fundamental nature, the intrinsic characteristics of the products.
The second generation provides a breakthrough innovation by using a nanoparticle itself as the active principle. This no longer involves any drug for which molecular interactions play a predominant role, but involves the nanoparticle that will generate by itself a physical therapeutic effect throughout the cell to change its behaviour. In this breakthrough approach, the totality of value is provided by the nanoparticles, since they are by themselves the nanomedicine therapeutic products.
It is a total change of perspective.
Nanomedicine already impacts diagnostics and treatments and has the potential to revolutionize them in the coming years, thereby opening new and highly significant opportunities for the benefits of patients.