MEMS and Nanotech in Medicine

In initiating our report on “Micro- and Nanomedicine“, which details the full spectrum of products, technologies and markets in the application of MEMS and nanotech to medical use, I elected not to approach this as an update of the report we did in 2003, for several reasons. First, I was able to draw on very qualified resources for the current report, and was particularly interested in the analysis capitalizing on this by having an “unbiased” view of the market. Second, the market continues to be driven heavily by R&D, which by its nature results in a rapid flux in the players, the nature of their nanotech/MEMS initiatives and the actual status of development.Since our prior analysis, a very great deal has changed in the fields defined by those corporate, academic and government entities pursuing medical development of nanotech and MEMS. We currently profile about a 100 companies, but there are easily 4-fold more that one might consider for profiles given the number of companies and their current or potential involement in micromedicine or nanomedicine.

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Nanotech Hype versus Actual

The potential for nanomedicne, the medical application of nanotechnology, is vast, as has been pronounced almost endlessly since it was conceived. However, already on the market in the United States are wound dressings that exploit the antimicrobial properties of nanocrystalline silver, and nanotech-based products for drug delivery, materials technologies and other nanomedical applications are indeed real and in clinical trials now. Many ompanies are developing a diverse range of nanotechnology types for applications including biopharmaceuticals, drug delivery, materials uses, and sensors & diagnostics. These select applications represent just a small sample of the possibilities being pursued, but also represent uses that have made noteworthy progress toward commercialization, a very elusive aspect of the often overstated nanotechnology industry. The unique traits of nanoparticles, fullerenes and other nanoscale structures that either represent novel types of biopharmaceuticals or allow coupling to therapeutic agents for more effective (e.g., localized) drug delivery have lended themselves to development by many companies. Here are examples:

  • Avidimer Therapeutics
  • Introgen Therapeutics
  • BioSanté Pharmaceuticals
  • ImaRx Therapeutics

One very common use of nanotechnology, under development at many companies and institutions, is as a means to develop unique materials with properties similar to, or even identical to, other naturally occurring or synthetic materials, but with distinct advantages afforded by the materials. Examples:

  • Angstrom Medical
  • MIV Therapeutics
  • …many others

Nanotech-based sensors and diagnostics represent a middle ground, in development terms, between nanotech-as-materials and therapeutic nanotech devices, and many companies are focusing efforts in this area, including:

  • Biophage Pharma
  • Orion Integrated Biosciences
  • …more

We adddress the nanotechnology/MEMS industry, reviewing the technologies, applications and their status for companies in a range of applications of nanomedicine and micromedicine in the May 2006 MedMarkets. Related Tags: , , , ,

Nanotech/MEMS in medicine (nanomedicine) companies

This is preliminary(!) list of the companies involved in nanotech and/or MEMS with at least a minimum level of activity in applying the technologies to medical applications. This list was updated from a previous report by MMD, but still may included a number of companies (not yet edited out) who ultimately were unable to sustain the rampant, rabid optimism needed to drive investment in support of R&D in this area. We also will likely have a moderate to significant number of additional companies profiled.

Advanced Photonic Systems GmbH

Amersham Biosciences Corp

Anson Nano-Biotechnology Company Ltd

Aphios Corp

Aquamarijn MicroFiltration BV

Avidimer Therapeutics

Biocristal Ltd

Biodelivery Sciences International

Bio-Gate Bioinnovative Materials GmbH

Bionova Inc

Biophan Technologies


C Sixty

Capsulation Nanoscience AG

CardioMEMS Inc

Digital BioTechnology Co Lts

DIOLAS Diodenlaser GmbH

Fairfield Sensors Ltd

Flamel Technologies SA

Genencor International

HealPlus International Inc


ImaRx Therapeutics Inc


Improvita Health Products Inc

Insert Therapeutics Inc

JenLab GmbH

JR Nanotech plc

Kereos Inc

Kliendieck Nanotechnik

Liplasome Pharma A/S

Magforce Applications GmbH

MagnaMedics GmbH

ManoMedica Inc

Micralyne Inc

Micromet AG

Micronics Inc

MicroTec Geselschafft fur Mikrotechnologie GmbH

MIV Therapeutics Inc

Molecular Profiles

Nanobac Pharmaceuticals Inc

NanoBio Corp



Nanocarrier Co Ltd

Nanocopoeia Inc

Nanogate Technologies

Nanogen Inc

NanoMed Pharmaceuticals Inc

Nanomix Inc

NanoPharma AG

Nanostream Inc

Nanosyn Inc

Nanotherapeutics Inc

Nanovax Inc

Newco Surgical


Novosom AG

Nucryst Pharmaceuticals

Nutralease Ltd

Petnet Pharmaceuticals Inc

Pharmosol GmbH

Precision Optics Corp

Psvidia Ltd

Silex Microsystems AB

Skyepharma plc

Solubest Ltd

Spherics Inc

Spire Corp


Starpharma Pooled Development Ltd

Tecan Group Ltd

The report is about a week away, depending on how much additional content we feel meets the “absolutely-have-to-include-this” test.

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Micro and nanotech medicine

We’re working on finalizing this report. It shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone who has looked at the nanotech “industry” over the past couple years (we did a report three years ago) that it is the most hyped, promise-filled industry that has kept forestalling investors and any other interested parties from seeing concrete successes. Producing a report on this subject that achieves even the least resemblance to realistic timelines or realizable potential demands a diligent, critical eye to filter out the unlikely-to-ever-be-fulfilled potential.

Having said that, even the most conservative analyst would have to look at this industry and recognize that, REVENUES ASIDE, the industry is exploding with activity. The number of companies pursuing applications in nanotech and MEMS is huge. When you then distill the content down to focus only on those in the medical arena, the numbers are still huge.

There is revenue, too, and it is growing steadily toward that hockey stick upward shot that will take place, well, I’m not saying yet… We’re still applying our analysis and tracking multiple technologies approaching the launch pad.

* * *

Micro- and Nano-Medicine: Technologies, Applications, Industry, and Markets Worldwide

April 2006

Report #T625

· 250 pages · 45 Exhibits · 72 Company Profiles · Pub. Date April 2006 · Report #T625

The Report will be a detailed assessment of the products and technologies under development in the nanometer scale and micrometer scale levels with clinical applications, and an assessment of the market potential for products/technologies to be successfully commercialized for use in clinical practice within a ten year forecast period. This assessment will identify the technological, market, regulatory or other hurdles to be crossed en route to commercialization. The report will provide particular emphasis in detailing the current activities and status of product development at active companies. The analysis will be directed toward revealing specific opportunities for current or hopeful competitors.

Nanomedicine material science to structural engineering

In our December ’05 issue of MedMarkets, we addressed applications, products and companies developing nanotech and MEMs (microelectromechanical machines) in medicine. There we address applications and companies focused on nanomedicine developments in biosensors, pacemakers, implantable pumps, personalized medicine, drug delivery, cancer therapeutics and diagnostic systems.From a macro view, it is worthwhile to step back and look at the migration of nanotechnologies from the more purely materials science, in which nanoparticles or nanosurfaces are developed to provide properties intrinsic to such small scale, toward structurally engineered products at the nanoscale, including nano products that provide the more complex sensor-type performance or even beyond, with specialized structural and functional components.By comparison to a prior analysis that we provided on nanotech and MEMs, this developmental trend has become more pronounced, illustrating the growing sophistication of the science. In our current analysis, a limited, but fairly representative sample of companies suggests the following current distribution

of the essential functional characteristics provided by the nanotechnologies being developed, as measured by the simple frequency of companies:

  • particle/surface: 64%
  • analysis: 8%
  • functional structure: 28%

By “particle/surface”, we mean products that are nanoparticle, nanoparticle coating or other products based simply on nanoscale materials.

By “analysis”, we mean products designed to reveal structure or function at the nanoscale level, rather than products that are themselves nanoscale or that provide analytical (e.g., sensor-based) functions at the nanoscale.

By “functional structure”, we mean those products that are themselves nanoscale in simple or complex structure (i.e., beyond surface coating) providing functional performance beyond nanoparticles as materials.

In this, we have seen, even in the past two years, an impressive increase in nanotechnologies in the functional structure category, the most advanced of nanotechnology development. Indeed, the predominant types of nanotech products, both in nanomedicine applications and in the broader applications, fall in the area of particle and/or surface-based nanotechnologies, in which there is little or no performance of nanotech beyond that provided materials science. In nanomedicine, this particle/surface category, even cursorily surveyed, stands at 64% of the nanotech companies.
This is not to say that nanotech development necessarily has as its endpoint (in ultimate market potential) the development of complex nanostructures. Tremendous market potential may well reside in nanotech as surface coatings (let’s remember what coatings did to the stent market), whether for devices or for pharmaceuticals. Impirically, there are more challenges in the development and testing of complex nanostructures than in the development of nanosurfaces. But there may also be nanoscale applications of complex nanostructures that we have envisioned neither technologically nor from a market potential.If there is a take home message (sorry to have taken so long to get here), it is that the survival-conscious device manufacturer has recognized that nanotech is an area that it cannot afford to ignore. Over the next 1-2 years, witness the number of developmental, investment or other deals involving device companies and nanotech companies.