The advent of biopolymers has revolutionized polymer science. Derived from natural sources, these biodegradable, biocompatible and usually nontoxic polymers, are well received, owing to their unique set of properties that make them favorable for use in a wide net of industrial as well as medical applications.
New analysis from Frost & Sullivan (ti.frost.com), Biopolymers, finds that advances in biotechnology and genetic engineering and their integration with polymer science have engendered advanced and sophisticated production means, which in turn, offer tremendous flexibility to the developers to synthesize biopolymers befitting a desired application.
“The growth of biopolymers can be perceived as one that is complex and there are various directions in which developments occur,” notes Frost & Sullivan Research Analyst Vanitha S.V. “While in one direction the growth occurs in terms of innovating novel biopolymers by employing novel production processes, the other direction of growth is one where the scope of applications of biopolymers are expanded.”
In the industrial sector, biopolymers, also widely known as bioplastics, hold applications chiefly in market sectors such as packaging, electronics, automotive and agriculture. Bioplastics have the largest application in the packaging industry with other sectors such as electronics, automotive and agriculture growing to meet the demands for environment-friendly products.
Technological developments to improve the characteristic of a particular type of bioplastic in order to enhance its use in an application area are also currently being focused upon.
In the medical field, biopolymers are a new and exciting area of research and incite tremendous optimism to be employed in three main end-sector applications, namely the medical devices, tissue engineering and the drug delivery market. Therefore, biopolymers hold a remarkably diverse scope of applications, which is bound to grow in the coming decades.
The use of biopolymers has evolved from employing them in simple medical devices such as tissue adhesive surgical patches, meshes, tissue screws and tacks, dental implants, contact lenses, tissue adhesives, sealants and wound closing sutures to employing them today in complex devices such as orthopedic fixation products, cardiovascular stents and heart valves.
The enhanced development of biopolymers for various applications would serve to substantially bridge the critical unmet needs of this society and adequately improve the quality of lifestyle.
“In modern therapeutics, any technology or science does not stand-alone,” cites Frost & Sullivan research analyst Nithiya C. Anil. “It is crucial to explore the possibilities of integrating fundamental aspects of a science with advanced and interdisciplinary technologies to expend the maximum benefits hosted by a particular technology.”
Although novel bioproduction processes inspired from biotechnology have been pivotal for beneficial means of biopolymer production, these processes are expensive compared to the traditional chemical synthesis processes. One has to strike a balance with the cost factors associated with achieving better productivity.
“Apart from cost factors, leveraging performance characteristics of biopolymers, which are contingent upon various factors such as physical strength, mechanical property, biocompatibility, biodegradation profile, and retention rate for various applications of biopolymers is imperative for the growth of biopolymer industry,” says Vanitha. “The quality, yield, and reproducibility of the product should also be evaluated in order to derive complete benefits of the biopolymer technology.”
Other valuable strategies to advance the technology would be to increase the awareness of the potential and prospects held by biopolymers to attract funding from investors, and engaging in active collaborations with academic sectors, big medical firms and pharmaceuticals.
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