A new hydrogel material created from materials typically discarded by the forest and fishing industries could be a substitute for petroleum products used in a variety of biomedical applications, from contact lenses to pill capsules.
« The intention was to create a material that could be used as artificial cartilage, » explained Lingyun Chen, a University of Alberta professor who specializes in biopolymer chemistry and who participated in the development of the product, made from spruce trees and the shells of crustaceans.
« Our hydrogel system could also be made into tiny nanobeads that could be used as targeted drug delivery systems to specific tissues or organs, » she said.
Chen explained that biopolymers found in nature can be made into fibers and films.
« The potential is enormous—many of them might be useful to replace petroleum in a number of products like food packaging, water filtration systems or adsorbents for water treatment, » she said. « The hydrogel is but one example of how we can transform and use these materials. »
Chen and her colleagues described the new hydrogel, which is capable of repairing itself when torn, in a study recently published in Carbohydrate Polymers.
« We were able to demonstrate that it has good mechanical properties because it’s tough, stretchable and recovers its shape when compressed, » she explained.
Her work showed the new technology has little toxicity to cell cultures, suggesting it could also be used in a variety of biomedical applications, from contact lenses to drug delivery.
Though much work still needs to be done, Chen believes it shows that a little imagination can go a long way in making industries more sustainable.
« Because these byproducts have a limited use, we were quite pleased when we found our gel has interesting properties, » she added. « This work really demonstrates that things we sometimes consider to be garbage can have applications in other areas, potentially making other industries—in this case forest and fishing—less wasteful. »
Read more at : https://phys.org/news/2020-01-artificial-cartilage.html