According to the World Health Organization, an estimated one million people in Africa die of malaria each year – mostly children. That is one death every 45 seconds. In this instance, plastics provide a simple and affordable solution: plastic nets treated with insecticides will ward off malaria - carrying mosquitoes and save countless lives.
Plastics are robust, versatile and easy to clean and to sterilise. They also form an unequalled barrier to liquids, gases and pollutants. In 2010, many findings confirmed this innovating trend and contributed to further place plastics at the top of the list of materials when it comes to innovative and groundbreaking applications. One of the major concerns of the last couple of years, hospital acquired infections, can now be partially prevented thanks to innovative plastics with antimicrobial properties being used to produce tubing, blood transfusion bags, needles or hospital durables as well as workplace surfaces that in the past would have harboured sources of potential infection.
Plastics can also preserve the effectiveness of the most effective drugs, thanks to specific polymers with excellent barrier properties.
According to recent researches, plastics can copy the most complex structures and features of biological cells. In the future, coaxed polymers rolled up in double helices could lead to synthetic structures behaving like proteins. These could be used as vehicles to deliver drugs to the organism and specifically target a disease.
Likewise, synthetic blood cells similar to red-blood cells could one day be able to circulate in human organisms for long periods, delivering the most effective cancer-fighting medicine to the patient or act as emergency transfusions without the need for blood typing before being eliminated naturally by the organism.