Getting New Technologies Into the Hands of Doctors Faster

Nanotechnology generally takes place at the molecular level on the smallest of scales. Hopes are high for new nano-discoveries that can improve health care. Houston Public Radio's Rod Rice reports that scientists and physicians gathered at the Texas Medical Center to do some old fashioning talking about this cutting edge technology.

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Houston has been at the center of nanotechnology over the last decade. The effort now is to get these new materials and new ways of thinking into the hands of clinicians quicker. Vicki Colvin is the director of the Center for Biological and Environmental Nanotechnolgy at Rice University. She says there is also another very important reason the conference.

"Also, of course to pick the right problems early on so the one's like scientists like myself are focusing on are actually the ones that downstream people really what thought about."

She says disease detection is one thing physicians really want nanomedicine to address.

"One of the things that they really want is to understand, not just does someone have a tumor, but what is that tumor going to do in the next month or two. How can they forecast is that tumor going to grow quicker or is that tumor going to be a slow grower. That kind of information we can take back as scientist and engineers and begin to figure out what are the particular markers that we could image earlier so that doctors can not just see a tumor but where it's going to go."

The pipeline from laboratory to clinic is dramatically slowed by the regulation process. Under the old model the Food and Drug Administration came along at the end of the pipeline before new technology ended up in the hands of doctors. Colvin says regulators are now getting involved early on in the process.

"The FDA just in the last two years has started programs that are partnership programs with industry, academia and others to help bring that perspective early, early into the discussions about the types of materials, the types of imaging, so that by the time materials get onto their desks, the FDA is very well educated about it and all of the investigators have done everything that can to make sure that their system is going to have the best chance for meeting FDA criteria."

It may be that old fashion talking, face to face, is most affective way of getting new technologies from scientific labs to the practical applications.

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