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Mobilising for innovation in nanomedicine

“Nanotechnology holds great potential for new applications in areas such as diagnostics, personalised treatment and medical technology,” says Anne Kjersti Fahlvik, Executive Director of the Division for Innovation at the Research Council. “To achieve the results we are seeking, extensive cooperation between research groups is a must. The Research Council wishes to promote a broad discussion on priorities, challenges and opportunities,” she adds.

In keeping with national objectives

Representatives of prominent national research groups and relevant industrial actors recently met for a workshop at the Research Council. The event was co-organised with Oslo Medtech and Oslo Cancer Cluster.

Minister of Trade and Industry Monica Mæland has highlighted the significance of forums such as these as Norway moves towards a more sustainable, knowledge-based economy.

Nanotechnology holds great potential for new applications in areas such as diagnostics, personalised treatment and medical technology. (Illustration: Shutterstock)

Ms Mæland notes that technology, research and innovation are the future, which is why the Government is investing in these areas in the national budget for 2016. According to Ms Mæland innovation is the best means of securing long-term economic growth.

Norwegian activity in three areas of application

Norwegian nanomedicine research has already helped to improve medical treatment and simplify daily life for certain patient groups. The Research Council is supporting further advances especially in three specific areas where Norwegian research groups have made considerable progress:

  • Diagnostics and therapy: The combination of nanotechnology and biotechnology, and the use of nanoparticles, paves the way for new treatments for a variety of diseases, including cancer. Cancer treatment can be targeted and customised more specifically to individual patients, resulting in faster test results and fewer side effects.

  • Regenerative medicine: The idea behind regenerative medicine, or tissue engineering, is to grow living tissue that is as similar to natural tissue as possible. This is done by combining stem cells from a patient with biomaterials, which requires expertise within both biology and materials technology. Norwegian research groups are working on applications for skin and bone tissue, among other areas.

  • Medical technology: Increasingly, the development of modern medical technology is being fuelled by advances in nanotechnology. This is the case for radiation therapy and ultrasound, for instance. Norwegian R&D groups are also experts in sensor technology. Examples of achievements are microscopic pressure gauges and CO2 sensors for clinical use.

Linking Norwegian and international activity

At the national level, the Research Council is involved in a number of activities of relevance to nanomedicine development, while the EU Horizon 2020 Framework Programme carries out similar activities at the international level. The EuroNanoMed II ERA-NET project, in which the Research Council takes part via the Research Programme on Nanotechnology and Advanced Materials (NANO2021), is an example of a successful link between national and international activities.

“It’s helpful and important to look to other countries and stay apprised of developments in the field internationally,” Ms Fahlvik explains. “It’s equally important to draw on the broad range of expertise available in Norway, and not least to listen to what users have to say. We must ensure that the research leads to solutions that meet the needs of patients,” she concludes.

 

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