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article imageBone healing advanced through crab shell protein

By Tim Sandle     Oct 20, 2016 in Science
An advancement in nanotechnology: scientists have succeeded in combining a sugar, extracted from crab and shrimp shells, with nanomaterials. This is the building block for bone regeneration and wound healing.
The basis of the biomedical application is the sugar found in the shell of crustaceans called chitosan. The properties of the sugar are enhanced through the use of different nanomaterials.
Chitosan is a natural, non-toxic and biodegradable, polysaccharide obtained from chitin. Chitin is the main component of the shells of shrimp, lobster and the beak of the octopus and squid, as well as several types of insects. Chitosan can be produced by treating crustacean shells with the alkali sodium hydroxide.
Chitosan has been explored in relation to different fields. Here the sugar has been found to be both biocompatible and biodegradable. It also has antibacterial, antifungal, analgesic and hemostatic (prevention of bleeding) properties. For example, one research group discovered that chitosan oligosaccharides (COS) can be used as an antifungal agent that synergistically affects the growth of a variety of pathogenic fungi. In an applied study, some research suggests that nanoparticles of chitosan could be used to create a new generation of anti-ageing creams.
With the new research, scientists are developing composites that combine chitosan with so-called "nanofillers." These make the end material stronger. With this, the research has successfully combined bioactive glass nanoparticles with chitosan to create synthetic bone grafts. In trials using bioactive glass and chitosan, bone cells grew very quickly.
Further work will focus on improving the dispersion of nanofillers within the chitosan matrix. This will involve studying how the different materials combine and function together.
As well as wound healing the developed product can also be used with drug delivery, linking to the emerging field of personalized medicine. Here, graphene oxide has been used in with chitosan to develop "nanocarriers." These beads are capable of delivering drugs to target tissues.
The research has been published in the journal Science and Technology of Advanced Materials. The research paper is titled “Chitosan nanocomposites based on distinct inorganic fillers for biomedical applications.”
More about bone regeneration, Bones, Chitosan, Crabs, Nanoparticles
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