Infectious Diseases

Health - Infectious diseases - About The Sector

Causing sixteen percent of deaths worldwide annually, infectious diseases are the leading cause of death of children and adolescents, and one of the leading causes in adults.1 Mainly occurring in low- to middle-income countries, many of these deaths are preventable or treatable. Infectious diseases include, for example, diarrhoea, cholera, influenza, mumps, measles, hepatitis, tuberculosis, syphilis, gonorrhea and leprosy. Some figures are given below on the incidence, mortality rates and healthcare cost of just a few of these. There has been specific focus at European level on HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis in the Seventh Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development (FP7, 2007-2013).

The role of nanotechnology in infectious diseases includes prevention through the use of bacteria-free nanomaterials for super-clean surfaces to avoid infection transmission and potentially for imaging to trace the path of infection and to help in the implant of diagnostic and therapeutic materials within the body. Through the use of nanotechnology, sensors are being made more sensitive and the time for diagnosis (and therefore treatment) is being reduced, one current application of nanotechnology to infectious diseases. Time critical diagnostic information can be obtained more rapidly and immediate treatment given, with monitoring with immediate feedback becoming a short-term research and development objective (e.g. for bacterial or viral infections).