UPM (www.upm.com) leads the forest-based bioindustry into a sustainable and innovation-driven future. UPM’s innovations focus on the efficient and responsible use of recyclable and renewable biomass. UPM’s new businesses Biocomposites (www.upmprofi.com) and Biochemicals (www.upmbiochemicals.com) develop new bio-based materials which open new sustainable and responsible business opportunities.
Creating value and replacing fossil-based raw materials
UPM Biochemicals’ offering is divided into four product categories: chemical building blocks, lignin products, biofibrils and biomedical products.
Bio-based chemical building blocks are used for example to substitute oil-based chemicals in plastic production. Wood-based lignin can be used to manufacture bio-based resins replacing fossil-based resins for example in plywood production.
Biofibrils are cellulose-based micro- and nanofibril products that can be used for shaping and reinforcing different materials. They can also be used in new biomedical applications.
GrowDex® an innovative matrix for 3D cell culturing
UPM’s GrowDex® (www.growdex.com ), is an award-winning innovation with great future potential in medical research and other applications. It is a proprietary hydrogel for three dimensional (3D) cell culturing. 3D cell culture is an in vitro technology for advanced cell culture applications. They mimic more closely natural tissues and organs than cells grown in two-dimensional environment (2D). 3D cell culture techniques enable e.g. development of cell based drug and chemical tests and discovery of models and treatment for serious diseases.
The wood cellulose-based nanofibril hydrogel GrowDex® is used for research of different sicknesses, such as cancer. In a recent project researchers investigated how cancer cells from solid tumors grow as a three-dimensional culture in GrowDex® and how they respond to different drugs.
It has turned out that cells which have been cultured in this type of 3D environment can show different drug responses than those that have been cultured in a traditional 2D environment. With some drugs, the cancer cells are sensitive in one or the other condition, not both. In other words, a certain drug only kills cancer cells in a 2D environment but not in the natural 3D environment. The use of more natural, 3D in vitro technologies enables more effective development of cancer and other drugs and even personalized medicine applications.
UPM’s GrowDex® has been recognized as a significant innovation with great future potential. It was awarded the Chemical Industry Federation of Finland innovation prize in 2016. The members of the award winning GrowDex® team come from UPM and the University of Helsinki. The award given to the innovation is also a recognition to UPM for boldly moving into new areas of research and development.