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Free Content Editorial [Hot Topic:Impacts of Nanotechnology on Medicinal Chemistry and Drug Discovery (Guest Editor: Bing Yan)]

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Drug discovery is constantly stimulated by new technologies and new paradigms. Nanotechnology has already had unprecedented impacts on every area of modern technologies, from energy to materials to medicine [1-3], and more impacts and discoveries are still to come. The term “nanomedicine” appeared in the literature only a decade ago, and now it has already become a rapidly advancing research field with focus on developing novel therapy and imaging approaches for various diseases, particularly cancer [4-9]. In this special issue of Current Medicinal Chemistry, leading experts in the interdisciplinary areas of nanomedicine and nanobiotechnology critically review the impacts of nanotechnology on drug discovery and medicine, particularly in areas previously affected by the limitations of traditional drug design and delivery methods.

An ideal drug should enter cells and selectively inhibit the disease target while possessing suitable solubility, blood pool retention time, metabolic stability, and pharmacokinetic/ pharmacodynamic properties, and with no evident toxicity. Traditional small-molecule drugs have to incorporate all these functions into a single molecule with a molecular weight around 500. This is a tremendous challenge! However, nanoparticles with dimensions less than hundreds of nanometers are approximately 0.01-1.0% of the size of human cells. They can easily enter cells or pass through the leaky vasculature in tumors. On the other hand, they are bigger than small molecules, so they can be built into a nanoplatform that easily integrates targeting molecules, drugs, imaging moiety, and biocompatible side chains on a single nanoparticle, taking advantage of their large surface areas.

In this special issue, articles by Sun, Huang, Kanwar, and their coworkers describe several typical nanoplatforms with the aims of overcoming difficulties in conventional drug design and formulation, “sugar code” on cell surfaces for cell targeting, and oral delivery of peptides and proteins. Articles by Boppart, Yan, and their coworkers describe research into nanomedicinal constructs with imaging or with integrated imaging, therapy, and targeting functions. Absorption, distribution, metabolism, and excretion, as well as toxicity, are important concerns for nanomedicine candidates, as for small molecule drugs. Nanotoxicology has evolved into a research discipline of its own. Wick and coworkers describe research in this aspect on a promising nanoplatform called carbon nanotubes.

With rapid development in nanotechnology and nanomedicine, this collection can only provide a glimpse of this dynamic field. We expect that nanomedicine research will soon provide new clinical approaches to diagnosing disease, delivering therapy, and monitoring therapeutic effects quickly and non-invasively.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2011-05-01

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  • Current Medicinal Chemistry covers all the latest and outstanding developments in medicinal chemistry and rational drug design. Each issue contains a series of timely in-depth reviews written by leaders in the field covering a range of the current topics in medicinal chemistry. Current Medicinal Chemistry is an essential journal for every medicinal chemist who wishes to be kept informed and up-to-date with the latest and most important developments.
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