The regulation of nanomaterials and nanomedicines for clinical application : current and future perspectives

Foulkes, Rachel and Man, Ernest and Thind, Jasmine and Yeung, Suet and Joy, Abigail and Hoskins, Clare (2020) The regulation of nanomaterials and nanomedicines for clinical application : current and future perspectives. Biomaterials Science, 8 (17). pp. 4653-4664. ISSN 2047-4830 (

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The use of nanomaterials in biomedicine has increased over the past 10 years, with many different nanoparticle systems being utilised within the clinical setting. With limited emerging success in clinical trials, polymeric, metallic, and lipid based nanoparticles have all found a place in medicine, with these generally providing enhanced drug efficacy or therapeutic effect compared to the standard drug treatments. Although there is great anticipation surrounding the field of nanomedicine and its influence on the pharmaceutical industry, there is currently very little regulatory guidance in this area, despite repeated calls from the research community, something that is critical to provide legal certainty to manufacturers, policymakers, healthcare providers and the general public. This is reflected in the lack of an international definition of what these materials are, with several bodies, including the National Institute of Health, USA, the European Science Foundation and the European Technology Platform, having differing definitions, and the FDA having no clear definition at all. The uncertainty created by the lack of consistency across the board may ultimately impact funding, research and development of such products negatively thus destroying public acceptance and perception of nano-products. This review aims to discuss the use of nanomaterials within the clinical setting, why regulation of these materials is so important, and the challenges faced in regulating these materials generally, as well as the current regulation used in different nations.