News

Food for Thought: Are We Really the Prey? Nanotechnology as Science and Science Fiction

In his 2002 novel Prey, Michael Crichton develops a scary scenario about the impact of “molecular manufacturing”, i.e. the convergence of nanotechnology, biotechnology, and information & communication technologies. The concept focuses on the risks of self-replicating, so-called  “nanoscale assemblers” and was originally published by scientists K. Eric Drexler (former co-founder of the Foresight Institute) and Richard Feynman. Criticized and challenged by fellow scientists such as Nobel Prize winner Richard Smalley, the concept of molecular manufacturing nevertheless reflects society´s fear of novel, unknown technologies – specifically, the fear of losing control over some seemingly overwhelming artificial power.

In their paper “Are We Really the Prey? Nanotechnology as Science and Science Fiction“, Australian scientists Diana M. Bowman, Graeme A. Hodge, and Peter Binks have analyzed the impact, chances and risks of the molecular manufacturing concept. Calling not only for improving the regulatory framework on novel technologies such as nanotechnology, their key conclusion is that “unwillingness to engage in public dialogue is a consumer and citizen backlash waiting to happen, as was experienced with biotechnology. Current real developments in nanotechnology offer exciting opportunities to advance the human condition; however, implausible ideas framed by some scientists only serve to influence the creative talents of science fiction writers, like Crichton, who then prey on the public’s lack of knowledge of the current boundaries of nanotechnology for entertainment’s sake.”

Consequently, the advancement of innovative products does not only call for more adequate regulatory conditions, but also – and most importantly – for the willingness and proactivity of both the scientific community and innovation-driven companies to increasingly address and interact with the general public. As it has turned out, the acceptance of innovative technologies by the public may be the crucial key to success or failure.

Source:  “Are We Really the Prey? Nanotechnology as Science and Science Fiction”, by Diana M. Bowman, Graeme A. Hodge and Peter Binks, Bulletin of Science Technology Society 2007; 27; 435. An online version of the paper is available here

Company News: MediGene Reports Financial Results for the Fiscal Year 2009 and Announces New CFO

MediGene AG today reported the results for its fiscal year 2009 and an outlook for 2010. Moreover, the company announced that its Chief Financial Officer Dr. Thomas Klaue will resign from office after the Annual Shareholders’ Meeting on May 11, 2010. He will be succeeded by Arnd Christ, formerly CFO of Swiss-based biotech company NovImmune. For further details, please click here.

Company News: Affectis Pharmaceuticals Raises €3.3M in Financing and Names Alex Martin Chief Executive Officer

Affectis Pharmaceuticals AG today announced it has raised €3.3M in the first tranche of a Series D financing. Existing investors LSP, Aescap Venture, KfW, Bayernkapital and EMBL Ventures were participating in the round. Moreover, the company announced the appointment of Alex Martin as Chief Executive Officer. Mr. Martin had previously served on the Supervisory Board of Affectis and joined the company fulltime as CFO in August of 2009. He succeeds founding CEO Herbert Stadler, who is retiring.

Mr. Martin brings over 20 years experience in the pharmaceutical industry, including roles at Novartis, where he was Vice President, Global Business Development & Licensing, and SmithKline Beecham where he held positions of increasing responsibility in sales, marketing, and business development. Immediately prior to Affectis Mr. Martin served as COO of Intercept Pharmaceuticals based in New York.

The full announcement is available at Affectis’  website.

Company News: Micromet Closes $80.5 Million Public Offering of Common Stock

Micromet, Inc. (NASDAQ: MITI) announced today the closing of its previously announced underwritten public offering and raises net proceeds of approximately $ 75.3 million, after deducting the underwriting discount and estimated offering expenses. For more information, please click here.

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