Crab Shells Have Healing Properties

First Posted: Oct 19, 2016 06:00 AM EDT

An interesting recent discovery has caught the attention of health experts. It involves mixing a sugar extracted from crab and shrimp shells. Apparently, the mixture together with nano-materials, the mixture could lead to applications that improve bone regeneration and wound healing.

A review of the latest researcher reported by showed that combining a sugar, taken from crab and shrimp shells, with different types of nano-materials could lead to the development of biomedical applications to improve bone regeneration, wound healing, as well as the targeted drug delivery.

The review, published in the journal Science and Technology of Advanced Materials, gave an overview of the different nano-materials that are tested with chitosan, which is the methods used to prepare the composite materials and the resultant properties to make them suitable to be applied in the biomedical field.

According to the report, chitosan is a sugar that is normally extracted from shrimp and crab shell waste known for its bio-compatible, biodegradable, antibacterial, anti-fungal, analgesic and hemostatic (stops bleeding) properties. Because of this, it makes it an excellent applicant for several biomedical applications, except for the fact that it has limited mechanical strength.

Now, researchers are trying to develop composites that combine chitosan with "nano-fillers", which will make the resulting material stronger. A successful composite is one in which the filler is well-dispersed within the composite material so that it can interact strongly with chitosan. Scientists are already finding some success in combining bio-active glass nano-particles with chitosan to develop synthetic bone grafts. Bio-active glass is a glass-ceramic bio-material that binds well to physiological structures such as bone. Science Daily reported that researchers observed bone cells growing relatively quicker and cover grafts made of bio-active glass and chitosan.

Graphene oxide has also been utilized in combination with chitosan to develop "nano-carriers" that can deliver drugs to designated tissues and at the same time avoid the negative side effects that conventional drugs can have on other tissues of the body. Just recently, silver nano-particles are being tested as nano-fillers combined with chitosan to develop wound dressings with antibacterial properties.

Meanwhile, it was also reported that hemoglobin (the protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen through the body), silver nano-particles and graphene have all been mixed with chitosan to develop a biosensor that can detect hydrogen peroxide, which is a dangerous by-product of some industrial processes.

However, the researchers said that there is still a need for further research and more attention is required to improve the distribution of nano-fillers within the chitosan matrix. Another area that needs to be addressed is how these composite materials degrade. Researchers also admit that they need to study more in order to understand how these composite materials communicate with host tissues in the body and whether these materials can be sterilized using conventional methods so that they can be applied in clinical practice.

"The vast opportunities shown by these materials, allied with their incredible nanotechnology potential, are expected to revolutionize the biomedical field in the near future," the researchers conclude.

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