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Crab shells to the rescue with your next bandage?
14
Jul '10
CSIR researchers are investigating the antibacterial properties of crab shells, when these are used as electrospun chitosan nanofibre membranes. The idea is to find the right formula of chitosan-based polymeric solution that may be used to manufacture wound dressings.

Wound dressings should ideally be made from materials that will not only encourage healing but also keep bacteria out of the wound. Because nanofibres have a high surface area to volume ratio, high porosity and small fibre diameter, they are ideal materials for wound dressings.

"Chitosan is produced commercially by deacetylation of chitin, which is the structural element in the exoskeleton of crustaceans such as crabs or shrimps," explains CSIR researcher Valencia Jacobs.

Chitosan is hypoallergenic, and has natural anti-bacterial properties. Its properties furthermore allow it to rapidly clot blood, further supporting its use in the field of bandages. It has recently gained approval in the United States and Europe for use in bandages and other hemostatic agents. Both the military wings of the United States government and the United Kingdom have already used bandages made from chitosan fibres on the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan.

"We prepared several concentrations of chitosan-based solutions and these were electrospun under various processing parameters to produce nanofibre membranes. These membranes were then subjected to various cell cultures to test antibacterial properties," says Jacobs.

The membranes were subjected to E.Coli and S.Aureus bacteria and then incubated at 37°C.

"Various concentration ratios of the specific chitosan nanofibre membranes that we tested exhibited no biotoxicity," she says. "The research will, however, continue."

The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) in South Africa is one of the leading scientific and technology research, development and implementation organisations in Africa. It undertakes directed research and development for socio-economic growth.

Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR)

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