This company just turned the lights ON for NanoMed Bioplastic

tumor nanoparticles Kateryna Kon FI

Bio-ON just patented the first application of bioplastic in nanomedicine with a diagnostic tool for cancer that will grant it access to a whole new market previously inaccessible to this industry.


Italy-based Bio-ON is trying to change the world by producing alternative sustainable chemicals and bioplastic materials with industrial applications. Their newest product, minerv BIOMEDS, will be used to detect tumors using bioplastic nanoparticles.

The plastic nanocapsules can be used to deliver magnetic nanoparticles and gold nanocylinders simultaneously. These elements are detected by NMR or photoacusting imaging and can act as reporters of the tumor location.

With this application, Bio-ON is targeting the market of contrast media, i.e. compounds that aid in the visualization of any elements of interest in medical imaging. This market generated €3.9B last year and is expected to rise up to €5.4B by 2020.

bioplastic nanocapsules
Figure 1. Bio-ON’s bioplastic nanocapsules under the microscope.

Bio-ON has a patent on their process to produce bio-based polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA) plastics from agricultural waste, which eliminates competition with the food industry for resources. These bioplastics are 100% biodegradable in rivers and any other water sources that contain bacteria within just 10 days in a completely inexpensive process.

Recently, the company developed a completely biodegradable milk carton in collaboration with Tampere University of Technology in Finland. Cristal Union, a lead producer of sugar beet in Europe, acquired the license of Bio-ON’s bioplastic production methods last year to make use of product waste. So far, the technology has been used to create lego-like toys, lamps, cosmetics, clothing, electronic devices and even buildings.

Figure 2. Blah
Figure 2. Bio-ON uses bacteria to produce PHA plastics from molasses, sugar cane and sugar beet syrups, which are waste products from the agricultural industry, all around the world through industrial partnerships.

Most bioplastics compete in the commodities market, where price is the key to success. By targeting medical applications, Bio-ON is gaining access to a whole new market. Other companies have explored bioplastics in medicine, like the biocompatible plastics for medical implants developed by Evonik, but this is the first notice of a direct diagnostic application for these materials.

The motto of the company summarizes really well their mission: “Turn ON Bio! Turn OFF pollution!“. And they seem to be achieving their goals so far. I can’t wait to see these applications start growing in popularity, it’d be awesome to have products with the potential to provide solutions to the biggest challenges in both medicine and ecology. For more info on what’s happening with bioplastics, check out our review!

Featured image credit: Katheryna Kon/
Figure 1 and 2 credit:


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