To achieve the biggest impact, nanotechnology-based strategies developed to manage infectious diseases in resourced-limited settings need to take into account the local context.
Nanotechnology for Global Health
When discussing the role that nanotechnology might play in global health, the benefits that nano-enabled strategies could afford in terms of improving the outcomes of infectious diseases and curbing their spread include the possibility of producing integrated point-of-care devices for fast and simple diagnosis and monitoring; the development of efficient, possibly self-administered, drug releasing platforms that do not require multiple administration; the engineering of vaccines with controlled properties that could boost the immune response against pathogens that have so far escaped traditional immunisation strategies. However, to achieve a tangible impact, it is crucial to consider from the very early stages of research, geographical and socio-economic aspects that are intimately linked to the local context where nanotechnologies are to be applied and ideally to empower local communities to harness and develop (nano)technology-based approaches that suit their needs.
Several globally significant infectious diseases are not yet treatable with vaccination; nanomaterials are being investigated to provide new strategies for vaccine development.
This Review outlines the potential applications of nanotechnology-based treatments for infectious diseases, with a specific focus on the progress and challenges in developing nanomedicines against HIV, tuberculosis and malaria.
When developing nanotechnology solutions for global health it is important to be mindful of the ethical, environmental, socio-economical, cultural and legal aspects associated with their deployment.
Sharing protocols with the end-users may allow their flexible implementation to produce nanotechnology solutions for global health challenges that better cater for local needs.
The nanotechnology-enabled mRNA-based vaccine platform recently approved against COVID-19 bears hope for improved vaccine development and trialling capacities in low- and middle-income countries as part of a broader global public health agenda.