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in Israel are reporting the first successful spinning of a key natural
protein into strong nano-sized fibers about 1/50,000th the width of a
human hair. The advance could lead to a new generation of stronger,
longer-lasting biocompatible sutures and bandages to treat wounds. The
study is scheduled for the November 10 issue of ACS’ Biomacromolecules, a monthly journal.
Eyal Zussman and colleagues point out that researchers have tried for
years to develop wound repair materials from natural proteins, hoping
that such fibers would be more compatible with body tissue than
existing materials. Scientists recently focused on producing these
fibers through “electrospinning,” a high-tech weaving process that uses
electrical charges to draw out nano-sized fibers from a liquid. But the
approach has achieved poor results until now.
In the new study, the scientists describe a new method for producing
electrospun polymers using bovine serum albumin (BSA), a so-called
“globular” protein found in cow’s blood. BSA is similar to serum
albumin, one of the most abundant proteins in the human body. The
method involves adding certain chemicals to a solution of BSA to loosen
the bonds that hold these highly-folded proteins together. That
results in a thinner, more spinnable protein solution. Using
electrospinning, the process resulted in strong fibers that are easily
spun into suture-like threads or thick mats resembling conventional
wound dressings. This approach is being followed by the groups of Zvi
Nevo and Abraham Katzir at Tel-Aviv University, the researchers said,
noting that the new method also can be applied to other types of
News release courtesy of American Chemical Society on October 15, 2008.
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