After a day and a half of lively presentations and discussions, it was apparent that nanotechnology was a promising set of technologies that had already penetrated the cancer arena, and was likely to make a much bigger impact in the field in the future. There was an acknowledgement by many that much more needs to be understood about nanotechnologies to commercialize them and ensure their safety and effectiveness. Additional challenges may impede progress in bringing nanotechnologies into the clinic, including public wariness of such innovative materials, a lack of nanotechnology manufacturing and testing standards, and gaps in regulation.
But because of the unique properties of nanomaterials that make them more likely to concentrate in tumors, penetrate various biological barriers that conventional small molecules cannot cross, and safely encapsulate toxic medicines and carry large payloads, the most common opinion seemed to be that nanotechnology would improve oncology. Jim Heath echoed this sentiment when he said, “I think it is worth noting that every application that I know of in nanotherapeutics that has gone into people, the net result has been to decrease toxicity. We talk about all these [challenges], but the headline should be that we have been able to engineer away toxicity to a great extent. That is something that should be celebrated in this field.”