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Wound Dressings Produced by Bacteria
May 7, 2015   
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Researchers from the Lodz University of Technology’s Institute of Technical Biochemistry have developed a method of producing bacterial nanocellulose for use in dressings that make wounds heal faster.

A research team comprising Prof. Stanisław Bielecki, Alina Krystynowicz, Ph.D., Marek Kołodziejczyk, Ph.D., Teresa Pankiewicz and Jolanta Płoszyńska have isolated a bacterial strain capable of secreting cellulose, the basic structural component of the walls of plant cells. Cellulose fibers produced by bacteria are much thinner than those found in plants, with a thickness measured in nanometers, hence the name of the new material: nanocellulose. In order to highlight the biological origin of nanocellulose, the material is referred to as bacterial nanocellulose or bionanocellulose.

Dressings made of bacterial nanocellulose accelerate the healing of so-called trophic lesions such as diabetes sores, bedsores and ulcers, as well as burn wounds, including extensive second- and third-degree burns. Nanocellulose membranes contain 98 percent water and used as wound dressings provide a layer that protects the skin against secondary infections. It also alleviates pain and prevents the loss of body fluids. Nanocellulose dressings can be manufactured in various sizes, including very large sheets. Durable and elastic, they can be formed into different shapes. For example, a nanocellulose dressing can be made to follow the contours of a patient’s face.

The technology to obtain bacterial nanocellulose is environmentally friendly. The material is free of any toxic compounds and it is also biocompatible, that is, accepted by living organisms. It triggers neither allergic reactions nor immune responses, and, as an extra benefit, the water locked between bionanocellulose fibrils can be replaced with a drug. All these properties were confirmed during clinical trials conducted at a burn treatment center in Siemianowice ¦l±skie, southern Poland. The trials also showed that the moisture under the dressings made wounds heal 40 percent faster than when treated with traditional dressings. Nanocellulose speeds up skin regeneration and scars left after injuries are smaller. Wrapping a nanocellulose “coat” around somebody who has suffered extensive burns can save the person’s life if done soon enough.

Research aimed at developing original bionanocellulose dressings began in 2003. The resulting material is called CelMat and has been approved for sale. Industrial production of CelMat has been undertaken by Bowil Biotech, a Polish biotechnology company from the northern town of Władysławowo. Bowil Biotech chief DariuszBobiński said on the Biotechnologia.pl website that the company has acquired rights to patents, patent applications for inventions and to the CelMat trademark.

Bowil Biotech has built a state-of-the-art production facility that complies with pharmaceutical good manufacturing practice (GMP) criteria. It is getting ready to launch CelMat dressings on the market.

The researchers from the Institute of Technical Biochemistry have also found that bacteria that secrete bionanocellulose can be grown on media made from renewable materials such as molasses and glycerol. Most recently, research has focused on other uses of bionanocellulose, including in tracheal tubes and meshes for hernia repair.

Stanisław Bielecki, Institute of Technical Biochemistry
Paweł Patora, Dziennik Łódzki
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