The Warsaw Voice » The Polish Science Voice » Monthly - August 28, 2015
The Polish Science Voice
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Nanofibers instead of ordinary fibers, nanoparticles instead of ordinary particles, and nanolooms instead of plain old looms. It’s all about nanotechnology. Polish scientists—in a research project coordinated by the Textile Research Institute in the central city of Łódź—have developed a range of special hi-tech textiles that have anti-allergic and antiviral properties, regulate their own temperature and clean themselves. These innovative textiles can be used to make window blinds, strollers for children, wheelchairs for disabled people, tents and radiation shields, says Małgorzata Cieślak, manager of the project. She adds that the new textiles are an especially good choice for specialized clothing, for example “clothes with bioactive properties useful in medicine, or protective clothing needed wherever there are biological risks or electromagnetic radiation.”

Łódź was once a textile industry powerhouse. That changed after Poland moved to a free market economy in the early 1990s and was inundated by imported textiles from China. Science is now helping the city regain its status with hi-tech textiles.

“We have developed a total of 21 technologies, although we only planned 10. We have submitted 13 inventions for patent protection,” says Cieślak. Customers are lining up.

Soon a line will also form for a new breed of bioactive foods that are designed to promote health and help patients with conditions such as obesity, anemia, hypertension and diabetes. This health-promoting food is intended for those who want to eat their way out of disease instead of taking tons of drugs.

“We compose this food from ingredients that contain an extremely high concentration of bioactive phyto-compounds,” says the project manager, Prof. Józef Korczak, head of the Department of Human Nutrition at the Poznań University of Life Sciences in western Poland. “We do not use any fixatives or preservatives. The ingredients are natural and come mostly from plants grown in Poland.”

Korczak notes the products deliver “a positive double-whammy effect” in people who are at risk of disease. “For example, they lower the blood cholesterol level and improve glucose levels in diabetics,” he says. “At the same time they protect consumers against obesity or diabetes.”

He says an appropriate diet rich in bioactive ingredients can dramatically reduce the number of patients.

The project has yielded 34 innovative food products that may be available soon in Polish stores. These include whole-wheat and crisp baked goods, jelly-type desserts, puddings, soups, and fermented milk drinks.

According to Korczak, production of healthy foods could become a major part of Poland’s economic strategy and could significantly promote those sectors of Polish industry and agriculture that produce ingredients rich in bioactive compounds.

A good diet is not enough if you want to have a long, healthy life. Effective drugs are also needed. The problem is that sometimes people have to take so many of them that treatment becomes troublesome. Polish scientists are working on a drug that will combine in one capsule the positive effects of several medicines used by those who suffer from an abnormal level of lipids—chiefly cholesterol—in the blood. The condition, called dyslipidemia, can lead to the development of arteriosclerosis and circulatory problems.

The 11-person team of researchers working on the new dyslipidemia drug is managed by Jarosław Marchewka, head of the project management department at Adamed Group, a provider of what are described as new-generation drugs. According to the researchers, the new medicine will be much cheaper than the corresponding combination of original drugs available on the market, making treatment more affordable for patients.