January 12, 2010
Health Sciences Campus, Kochi
Dr Shantikumar Nair, Dean Research at Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham was invited to make a presentation at the 97th Indian Science Congress that was inaugurated by the honorable Prime Minister of India, Dr. Manmohan Singh.
Dr. Nair spoke on Nanohealth: Progress and Prospects in India. As Director of the Amrita Center for Nanosciences, Dr. Nair leads a team of research scientists that has attracted global attention for path-breaking research in tissue engineering and stem cells.
In his talk, Dr. Nair discussed applications of nanotechnology, particularly in the medical and food sectors, and their impact on health. The use of biodegradable materials is widely promoted at the Amrita Center for Nanosciences and the talk highlighted issues regarding environmental effects as well.
“Nanotechnology will make a far-reaching positive impact in these areas,” he stated optimistically. “But attention needs to be paid to the potential toxicological aspects of these materials. India should have an efficient regulatory body and well defined protocols for dealing with the deployment of nanotechnology, handling, movement and approval of nano-products.”
Dr. Nair stressed that nanotechnology can be used in various areas of healthcare system such as making materials with enhanced biological properties like new implants, development of regenerative medicines, cell diagnostics and therapy, development of antibacterial nano-materials and wound healing nano-materials and development of biosensors with improved sensitivity.
“Nano technology is being deployed world over in various sectors like healthcare, food, agriculture, engineering, energy, textiles. India needs to make progress by deploying nanotechnology. Hence we need to set up an efficient regulatory system not only for ensuring safety but also for building up public confidence.”
Dr. Nair emphasized that a rigorous translational nanohealth program that considers all aspects of nanomaterials from in-vitro to in-vivo to animal studies and finally to human trials must be envisaged before applications are brought to the market. When asked whether the existing regulator for transgenic products – Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC) – could deal with the situation, he replied, “We need to set up a different regulatory body.”
The Indian Science Congress is the biggest national science event in India wherein scientists, science managers, policy makers and students interact on matters of science and seed the future direction of science in the country. The 5-day science event concluded on 7th January 2010. Dr. Nair’s talk was part of the session Nanotechnology and Education, jointly organized by ISRO and the Centre for Advanced Materials Research in Hyderabad (ARCI).