Bioplastics have been around even before synthetic plastics were invented. After the improvement of conventional plastic production, it was cheap and easy to produce large quantities of it. Therefore, bioplastics have been put in the background. Fortunately, bioplastics have been gradually gaining traction and exposure and are being used in many areas like packaging, cosmetics, catering, electronics, automotive industry, and medicine. Today, let’s take a look at bioplastics in medicine.
Some bioplastics are widely used in medicine because of their biocompatibility as well as its biodissolvability, which means it has an appropriate response in the human body and can dissolve with time in the body. Furthermore, they are easily sterilized and less toxic.
The mentioned characteristics make it a perfect candidate to use in skin and bone tissue engineering. The Polish Academy of Science has been working on biopolymers from fermented oils to develop a large spectrum of medicinal applications. Because oil-based bioplastics can have different hardness and flexibility, they can be used to create products like bioplastic bandages that can heal large wounds and burns, or bone reconstruction ceramic sponges coated with biopolymers.
Another use of bioplastics in medicine is for wound management for making surgical sutures, healing dental wounds, and preventing postoperative adhesions. These applications promise to reduce toxic risk to patients and to enable seamless healing, without the need for future extraction.
Bioplastics drug delivery systems have been around in the form of capsules made of plant or animal matter that dissolves with the digestion. But with the new advancements, excellent systems with controlled release up to one year are being implemented. Made of PLA, they are biodegradable, have a better capacity of encapsulation, and are less toxic.
Biodegradable polymers are used in orthopedic surgeries to avoid a second surgical procedure to retrieve the medical implements. These absorbable anchors, screws and fixation pins are used more commonly where high mechanical strength is not required.
Researchers around the world keep experimenting with new possible uses or bioplastics in medicine. For example, 3D-Printed bioplastic stents could be used in cardiovascular applications to treat narrowed or blocked coronary arteries and in general to improve blood flow.
To make bioplastics even more available for medicine, some improvements need to be done in heat resistance, moisture absorption, and improved possibilities of injection molding.