7 November 2008

Mushroom + Natural Fibre from Waste = Medical Bandage

Chitosan-based alternative with healing properties

As the News Service Philstar reports, two government scientists from the Phillipines have developed a cheap and eco-friendly non-woven medical bandage from a native mushroom. Dr. Claro Santiago Jr. and Rhodora Flores of the Department of Science and Technology’s Industrial Technology Development Institute found that the local “kabuting saging” or “kabuting dayami,” scientifically known as Volvariella volvacea, is a good source of chitosan, a compound known to induce the repair of tissues.

Chitosan has natural anti-bacterial properties and is hypoallergenic, they said. In their study, titled “Production of Non-woven Medical Bandage from Microfungal Fibers,” Santiago and Flores found the mushroom as a “cheaper and reproducible” source of chitosan. “The non-woven medical bandage is made from the mycelium of the edible mushroom, volvariela volvacea and can be mixed with other fibrous materials from agro-industrial wastes. An alginate and a textile fiber were added to make the product mechanically strong,” Santiago and Flores said.

“Unlike synthetic materials, the thread derived from this mushroom can be knotted easily and is non-allergenic. The product was also non-toxic,” they said. The study found that as early as day one of application, granular formation, inhibition of microbial growth, and re-epithelialization were detectable.

“This is perhaps due to the non-toxic, biodegradable and hydrophilic properties of chitosan. Good oxygen permeability was also observed,” they said. The scientists explained that most of the commercial medical bandages – woven, cross-linked or non-woven – are made either from synthetic materials or natural fibers. They are used to protect the open skin from infection, but most have no healing properties, the two scientists said. They pointed out that the developed medical bandage was proven to be at par with the commercially available antibiotic-treated wound dressing.

“It is also relatively cheaper because waste products are used as one of the raw materials. The medical bandage developed in this study is about 50 percent agro-industrial wastes and 50 percent mushroom mycelium,” they said. Santiago and Flores’ invention received its patent on June 25, 2007.

Chitin or chitosan is found in the shells of crustaceans such as crabs, lobsters and shrimps. The compound is also found in the exoskeletons of marine zooplankton, in the wings of certain insects such as butterflies and ladybugs, and in the cell wall of yeast and other fungi. However, such sources are exhaustible and also costly, Santiago and Flores said.

On the other hand, volvariela volvacea grows anywhere in the country, especially during the rainy season, they said. Santiago has already established the parameters for the production of edible mushroom mycelium using coconut water as growth medium through submerged fermentation. He said the use of coconut water is not only cheap but also readily available in large quantities as it is a common waste product in food processing and copra industries.

Source: Philstar, 2008-11-05

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