Nanoparticles in infectious disease

A nanomedicine project

The application of nanotechnology to medicine always raises concerns among citizens, with good reasons. The incorporation of nanomaterials into the human body sometimes is a subject of reluctance. In PneumoNP all the existing safety and risk assessments will be strictly followed, especially all the recommendations generated by the European Commission. The PneumoNP consortium will actively inform citizens across the world about the progress and applications of their research via multiple means (press relations, website, social network platforms etc) and through its other interpersonal dissemination activities. Finally, the project aims to be a world leader in showing that nanosystem-based treatment can be effectively used to optimize the treatment of antibiotic resistant infections.

Video by the European Technology Platform on Nanomedicine.

Fighting drug resistance

Klebsiella pneumoniae

Klebsiella pneumoniae

According to the majority of international stakeholders from the healthcare sector, infections caused by antibiotic resistant bacteria are one of the current major health issues affecting global health, largely due to lack of effective antibiotic therapies. The broad use of wide spectrum antibiotics over decades has generated bacterial strains that are resistant to most currently available antibiotics. On the other hand, pharmaceutical companies have tended to consider the development of new antimicrobial agents as financially flawed. Therefore, there currently exists a gap between the continuing growth in antibiotic resistance and the active discovery of new antibacterial agents. To help respond to this problem, the PneumoNP consortium has been awarded European union financing to help develop a new theragnostic system for the treatment and identification of antibiotic resistant bacteria associated with respiratory infections. The project combines research into nanotechnology and novel antibiotic compounds. 

Interview and video by WIRED

In April 2014, the WHO published a report revealing that the threat of global antibiotic resistance was no longer a prediction, but a real-life fact, affecting every region of the world and potentially people of any age. The key findings of the report focused on the bacterium Klebsiella pneumoniae, a major cause of hospital-acquired respiratory tract infections such as pneumonia. In some countries, this bacterium is so resistant that carbapenem antibiotics (our most powerful weapon against antibiotic resistant bacteria) does not work in more than half of the people treated for this infection.
In their report, the WHO specifically called attention to the need to develop new diagnostics, antibiotics and other tools to allow healthcare professionals and the public to stay ahead of this worrying increase in antibiotic resistance. In the framework of the European Antibiotic Awareness Day, the ECDC issued a fact sheet for the general public explaining the causes of antibiotic resistance and the problems it caused.

Carbapenems – resistance

Carbapenems are a major last-line class of antibiotics to treat bacterial infections. According to the ECDC, the spread of carbapenem-resistant infections is a threat to healthcare and patient safety in Europe as it seriously curtails the ability to cure infections.


Infography by EAAD.

A promising market

The nanomedicine market was worth $63.8 billion in 2010, and is expected to grow at a CAGR* of 12.5% to reach $130.9 billion in 2016. Some of the drivers of this market include increasing research funding, rising government support, improved regulatory framework, technological know-how and rising prevalence of chronic diseases. Thus, nanomedicine is a key component for pharma companies willing to maintain their competitivennes.

Expected market size (M€) 2015 2020 2025
Non-invasive delivery of protein nanomedicines 0 10,000 ± 5,000 20,000 ± 10,000
Non-invasive delivery of nucleic acid based nanomedicines 0 5,000 ± 2,000 10,000 ± 5,000

Furthermore, there is an urgent need of MDR antibacterials and a lack of new agents reaching the market for the time being. The emergence of nanomedicine and the application of nanomaterials in the healthcare industry will bring about groundbreaking improvements to the current therapeutic and diagnostic scenario.

*CAGR : Compound Annual Growth Rate is a business and investing specific term for the geometric progression ratio that provides a constant rate of return over the time period.

Sources :—global-industry-analysis-size-sharegrowth-trends-and-forecast-to-2019-256673051.html