Nano3Bio application areas
Nano3Bio's goal is the biotechnological production of so-called chitosans, which are used as raw materials for medicine, agriculture, water treatment, cosmetics, paper and textile industries as well as many other fields of application.
By developing biotechnological ways of producing well defined polysaccharides and nanotechnological tools for their formulation and functionalization, yielding products with known physico-chemical properties and reliable biological activities, Nano3Bio aims to offer a fresh approach towards realising the ecological and economical potential of these functional bio-polymers. This will open new opportunities for the knowledge-based development of high added-value products.
The potential of functional bio-polymers is evident, as they combine superior material properties with excellent bio-compatibility and highly versatile biological activities, promising advanced applications in e.g. biomedicine and agriculture, but also in cosmetics, food sciences and many other life-science related market fields.
Nano3Bio combines and integrates biotechnological production and nanotechnological formulation of innovative, bio-active, bio-mimetic, bio-inspired, and bio-engineered chitosans as high added value commodities for a range of applications within the life sciences.
New opportunities through third generation chitosans
Chitosan has been declared a promising biomaterial for fifty years due to its superior material properties and the diverse biological activities reported, but chitosan-based products were slow to enter the market due to poor reproducibility in production processes and product performances. This picture is changing now as we understand chitosan to be a family of biomolecules differing in structures and functions, and as research of the past decades has elucidated detailed molecular structure-function relationships.
While the ‘first generation’ chitosans of the past with their variable proper-ties were good enough only for use as a biomaterial e.g. for waste water treatment, today’s ‘second generation’ chitosans with their reliable biological functionalities allow the development of e.g. agricultural applications. Where 40 kg/ha of ‘first generation’ chitosan was required to give acceptable plant protection, 4 g/ha of ‘second generation’ chitosan can do the job – and more reliably! Future ‘third generation’ chitosans will be even more closely defined in terms of their properties and functionalities, allowing further refinement of products and creating new market opportunities.
Chitosans have strong growth promoting and disease inducing activities in many crop plants. Chitosan-based products are increasingly appearing on the markets, and these are not only products based on the material properties of the chitosans, but also on their biological functionalities. Recently, demand for chitosans is exceeding for the first time the supply of high quality material available. In this situation, the development of biotechnological production systems for defined chitosans targeted by the Nano3Bio project will offer a new source, in particular for higher price applications in life science based markets. In addition, the recent classification of chitosan as a "basic substance" by the European Commission in 2014 offers great opportunities for a bright future, in particular for chitosans in agriculture.
Still, the cellular modes of action of chitosans are not being fully understood so that plenty of scientific challenges also remain, in particular to understand the many biomedical activities of chitosans, and to then exploit them in a broad range of new pharmaceutical applications.