Russia has announced a new nanotechnology development project which it says will lead, in 2010-2015, to production by a local firm of medications “without parallel in the entire world.”

The project – to produce anti-inflammatory drugs, diuretics and statins in capsules of drug nanoparticles – has been approved by the supervisory council of the Russian Corporation of Nanotechnologies (RUSNANO), which was set up in 2007 to implement government policy in the area of nanotechnology by co-investing in industry projects.

The technology to be used in the project for fusing dissimilar drug substances in phospholipid nanoparticles was developed in the Russian Federation, and will permit “innovative and highly effective forms of medications” to come to market within just one to two years, with minimal risk and with a minimal budget, says RUSNANO, which is providing 341 million rubles out of the project’s total budget of 831 million rubles.

The research work and clinical trials will be carried out at the VN Orekhovich Institute of Biomedical Chemistry of the Russian Academy of Medical Sciences, whose director, Alexander Archakov, says the Institute’s researchers working on the project have “already made a particularly valuable contribution to phospholipid-carrying nanosystems, making it possible to embed in phospholipid micelles non-soluble substances - nearly 75% of all medications.”

The first range of drugs from the project are expected to become available during 2011-20. They will be nanoforms of the anti-inflammatories indomethacin and prednisolone plus chlorine-E6, an active ingredient in photosensitisers. The second group of products will become available during 2012-2015, and will include nanoforms of the potassium-sparing diuretic spironolactone plus nanophospholip, an innovative statin.

Drugs produced with this technology will be highly competitive, forecasts RUSNANO’s managing director Olga Shpichko, who adds: “the modest price of nanomedications and their considerably greater effectiveness than traditional counterparts will make the new drugs available to a huge portion of the populace. Therefore, this project has tremendous social importance.”

Meantime, Russia’s Health Ministry has published a list of 55 “strategically important” medicines - including treatments for cancer, heart disease and infectious diseases - which will be targeted for increased local production, under the Healthcare Development Programme’s goal of having domestically-produced medicines meeting 50% of local demand by 2020.

The Russian market for pharmaceuticals grew 25% in 2009, continuing its recent average annual rate of rise of 25%-30% despite the economic downturn. However, 55% of medicines are currently imported, with a further 20% packed in Russia, and only 25% are produced domestically.