by akronbiotech

We have written, on multiple occasions in the past, that the cost of biopharmaceuticals, and therapies based on them, is, in large part, dependent on the choice of raw materials used in their development and manufacture. Cost-effective scaleability and manufacturability are important considerations in this regard.

Here, we highlight two recent studies that have investigated how natural materials and biological waste – specifically, plant tissue and apple pomace – have been exploited to yield useful biomaterials for use in cell culture and, eventually, tissue regeneration. In doing so, the studies have demonstrated how reusable biological materials can be reengineered – or repurposed – into cost-effective, and sustainable therapeutic uses.

In Multivalorization of apple pomace towards materials and chemicals. Waste to wealth, published last week in the Journal of Cleaner Production, the lab of Dr. Maria Martinez Serrano at the Spanish National Research Council evaluated apple pomace, an industrial waste from apple juice and cider production as a renewable raw material from which they obtained biomaterials that can be employed as scaffolds for osteoblasts and chondrocyte culture and differentiation. Extraction of intermedia antioxidants preceded the preparation of these biomaterials which was achieved via a number of solid liquid separations. A cost analysis showed that the raw materials used in this work had a unit cost of 110 Euros/ton – significantly lower than scaffolds made from non-renewable sources.

The paper can be accessed here.

Elsewhere, Dr. William Murphy’s lab at the University of Wisconsin – Madison took a similar approach. Led by the need for scaleable and cost-effective tissue engineered products, the authors turned to decellularized husks of plants including parsley, bamboo, wasabi, vanilla and orchids which they used to form three-dimensional scaffolds, by bifunctionalizing the plants. These new materials were assessed for their strength, rigidity, porosity, low mass and surface area.


Decellularized vanilla plant stem. From Fontana et al. Biofunctionalized Plants as Diverse Biomaterials for Human Cell Culture. 2017, Adv. Healthcare Mater. DOI: 10.1002/adhm.201601225


Fibroblasts were shown to seed into the scaffolds and expand efficiently, helped in no small part by the three-dimensional topography afforded by the plant tissue.

The work was published last week in Advanced Healthcare Materials. Titled Biofunctionalized Plants as Diverse Biomaterials for Human Cell Culture, the manuscript can be accessed here.

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