Tiny particles that can fight cancer or that can easily pass through any interface within our body are a great promise for medicine. But there is little knowledge thus far about what exactly will happen to nanoparticles within our tissues and whether or not they can cause disease by themselves. Within an international research consortium, Empa scientists have now developed guidelines that should enable the safe development of nanoparticles for medical use.
The use of nanomaterials in medicine is a hot topic, for instance, in cancer therapy or diagnostics. Biomaterials such as tiny liposomes are loaded with drugs against breast cancer, pancreatic cancer or Kaposi’s sarcoma associated with HIV infection. Among inorganic nanomaterials there is, for example, colloidal silver, which inhibits the growth of microbial pathogens. Other nanoproducts stimulate our immune system or transport iron into our body. The minuscule size of the individual units in the range of a millionth of a millimeter is precisely what determines their billion-dollar potential on the world market.