Bioengineers develop 3-D structures from crab shells to replace damaged tissues

phys.org | 4/4/2017 | Staff
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A team of scientists from Sechenov First Moscow State Medical University used 3-D printing to create biocompatible structures on the basis of chitin obtained from crab shells. This method will help develop structures with given shapes for biomedical purposes, including the replacement of damaged soft tissues in the human body. The article was published in Marine Drugs.

Shells and other byproducts account for 50 percent to 70 percent of the weight of all crabs caught in the world. As a rule, they are destroyed, which requires additional investment. Only a minor part is processed. However, the bodies of marine crustaceans contain a lot of chitin. This polysaccharide is widespread in the wild—for example, the exoskeletons of insects are made of it. By removing certain acetyl groups from chitin, researchers can obtain chitosan, a biopolymer with a unique set of biological, physical, and chemical properties. It is biocompatible, i.e. does not cause inflammation or immune response when implanted into the body. It also has antifungal and antimicrobial properties and gradually decomposes in the body without leaving any toxic components. That is why chitosan and its derivatives are promising for medicine. On this basis, new types of biocompatible structures can be created to restore damaged tissues or carriers for targeted delivery of drugs.

Way - Chitosan - Chitin - Material - Chemical

The traditional way of obtaining chitosan from chitin requires treating the raw material with aggressive chemical reagents such as concentrated alkali solutions. Due to the small amount of produced chitosan and the toxicity of the solutions, these methods cannot be used on an industrial scale. The authors of the article suggest a more eco-friendly method of chitin modification—mechanochemical synthesis. The method includes three types of treatment of a solid mixture: with reagents, pressure and shear stress. It requires less alkali than the traditional chemical synthesis, and no solvents, catalysts, or process...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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