FDA and Academia: Institutions to Collaborate Under Nanotech Initiative

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has unveiled a new collaboration initiative with the Houston-based Alliance for NanoHealth (ANH) and its eight member institutions to help speed development of safe and effective medical products in the emerging field of nanotechnology.

Under a Memorandum of Understanding, the FDA/ANH Nanotechnology Initiative will work to expand knowledge of how nanoparticles behave and affect biologic systems, and to facilitate the development of tests and processes that might mitigate the risks associated with nanoengineered products. All outcomes from this public-private partnership will be placed in the public domain for the benefit of all stakeholders.

"The FDA's Nanotechnology Initiative with the Alliance for NanoHealth is an effort to engage resources and technical expertise in this rapidly advancing field, and is a clear example of leveraging science and scientists to advance the public good," said Frank M. Torti, MD, MPH, the FDA's acting commissioner. "Nanotechnology holds great promise for the advancement of novel medical products."

Nanotechnology involves the creation and use of materials at the level of molecules and atoms and presents challenges and opportunities for the FDA's entire regulatory product jurisdiction, from food to medical devices to therapeutics. The personal care industry has employed such technologies especially in the arena of sunscreens but while innovation supports improved efficacy with nanomaterials, consumers question the safety of them on the environment as well as themselves. Collaboration initiatives such as these aim to fill in some of those blanks. 

The eight academic institutions involved in this collaboration include: Baylor College of Medicine; the University of Texas' M.D. Anderson Cancer Center; Rice University; the University of Houston; the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston; Texas A&M Health Science Center; the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston; and the Methodist Hospital Research Institute.

"We are delighted with this partnership between the FDA and the eight institutions that constitute the Alliance for NanoHealth," said Larry Kaiser, MD, president of the University of Texas Health Science Center, on behalf of the ANH and its eight member institutions in a press statement. "We see this agreement as an important step on the path to taking advantage of the enormous power of nanotechnology to improve the diagnosis and treatment of disease."

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