Italian bioplastic to diagnose and treat tumors


Diagnose and treat tumors with bioplastic? It is possible for the very first time thanks to the first patent registered by Bio-on, the Italian industrial biotech company, in the nanomedical field, particularly in nanodiagnostics (nano-imaging). The researchers of the company headquartered in Bologna used nanotechnologies to create minerv Biomeds, which are revolutionary and innovative nanocapsules in PHAs bioplastic (polyhydroxyalkanoates) capable of simultaneously containing two contrast media: magnetic nanoparticles and gold nanocylinders. These two elements flag up diseased areas of the body, e.g. a tumor mass, using traditional Nuclear Magnetic Resonance and the more innovative Photoacoustic imaging, an innovative, revolutionary and non-invasive technique that produces extremely high resolution images of diseased areas of the body. It is highly precise and very safe because it does not use ionising radiation.

“Using PHA bioplastic is very advantageous,” explains Mauro Comes Franchini, Bio-on Chief Scientific Advisor, “because it is safe for the patient and has no side effects. As an industrial chemist, my main goal is to work with products that are safe for the environment and human health, especially when it comes to biomedical applications. Bio-on bioplastics fully meet these requirements and open up important, unexplored fields for nanotechnologies in medicine, a rapidly growing sector.”

This technology has a diagnostic as well as a therapeutic function, given that drugs can be inserted into the nanocapsules, for chemotherapy for example. This will enable minerv Biomeds nanocapsules to be used in targeted and selective cancer therapies in the future. Combining therapeutic with diagnostics has led the two terms to be fused, thus creating theranostics.

“This versatility makes nanocapsules multifunctional”, explains Comes Franchini, “and this dual system will allow clinical theranostic applications in oncology and in neurodegenerative disorders, enabling medical professionals to work safely on patients.”

“The PHAs bioplastics developed by Bio-on – the company writes in a note – are made from renewable plant sources with no competition with food supply chains. They are completely eco-sustainable and 100% naturally biodegradable. The research conducted and the patent registered by Bio-on show that they can be used successfully in the nanomedical field precisely because they are biocompatible and safe for human health”.

The global market in contrast media alone is dominated by four multinational companies that generated an overall turnover of $4.3 billion in 2015. According to the most recent estimates, this figure should rise to $6 billion with 39.5% growth over the next 5 years.

“We are proud to contribute to such an important sector for human health,” says Bio-on chairman Marco Astorri. “We will continue to do so by extending our direct presence even more in the biomedical and nanomedical sector.”


by Chloe Ferrari

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