Drug delivery by Nanocarrier?

There is a lot going on in the field of nanotechnology in Austria and also at ITA. Cutting-edge developments, such as the use of so-called nanocarriers in medicine and agriculture, as well as risk management of nanomaterials throughout Europe will take center stage at this year's NanoTrust conference in September.

Image of drug delivery using micelles made with nanotechnology to deliver drugs directly to the affected area (Photo: iStock).

NanoTrust-Advanced, a project of the Institute of Technology Assessment (ITA) at the Austrian Academy of Sciences, and the Austrian Federal Ministry for Climate Protection, Environment, Energy, Mobility, Innovation and Technology (BMK) are inviting participants to a conference on "Innovation and Governance of Advanced Materials" on September 14, 2023.

Nanocarriers useful for pharmaceuticals and agriculture

"The term nanotechnologies covers a wide spectrum. Everything that takes place in the nanoscale is difficult to comprehend for the average consumer and still poses many questions for research. How safe is the use of nanoparticles in, for example, pesticides that can come into direct contact with our food? Do we know that even food packaging and our lipstick can contain "nano"? There is an urgent need for education, which is why it is all the more important that authorities, researchers, industry and politics regularly exchange new findings," emphasizes biologist Anna Pavlicek, who has been working on the ITA's NanoTrust project for six years.

"Nanocarriers are an important new development. These transport and encapsulation systems in dimensions down to 1000 nanometers - that's one-thousandth of a millimeter - can be loaded with various active ingredients. In pharmaceuticals, but also in agriculture, they can be used to transport substances to specific locations and release them in a controlled manner," emphasizes organizer and project leader André Gazsó. Nanocarriers are therefore also the current main topic for Austrian group co-founded by NanoTrust for the protection of employees.

NanoTrust as a global model for the regulation of innovation

The NanoTrust initiative, launched by the then Ministry of Technology and the ITA, has been running for more than 15 years. The fact that the Austrian project, which also helped shape the Ministry of Health's Nano-Information Commission (NIK) founded in 2013, has a role model effect beyond its borders and is internationally respected became clear in the OECD report "Technology Assessment for Emerging Technology" (April 2023). There, in fact, NanoTrust is cited together with examples from, for example, Portugal, the Netherlands, the USA or Japan as successful applications of the principle "Safe and Sustainable by Design".

"It is important to us that areas such as worker protection, chemical regulation, environmental protection and consumer protection are already addressed in the development stage of innovations," Gazsó emphasizes. This year's NanoTrust conference is dedicated to policy advice for safe and sustainable innovation and how technology assessment can best support innovation.

Representatives of the German long-term project DaNa and the Swiss project Swiss NanoAnalytics will also be present at the conference.