SEAWEED COULD BE A VITAL INGREDIENT FOR 3D PRINTING BIOPEN
“The world is a complex system of biodiversity, individual components interacting, giving and taking from one another. As we begin to truly understand this concept, we can begin to harness the power of living in symbiosis with our environment.” Take seaweed, for instance. Researchers at the University of Wollongong (UOW) in Australia have been farming and processing seaweeds that will then be used biomaterials such as cell carriers in medical implants.
Seaweed extracts are already commonly used in variety of goods such as toothpaste, paint, and ice cream. However, research in the field of glycobiology (the study of complex sugars called glycans in living organisms) is showing that seaweed has a major role to play in the development on new and biologically active materials for medical treatments.
Gel molecules taken from seaweeds are ideal candidates for medical implants and tissue engineering because they provide the necessary structural support and have also been found to defend against bacteria, viruses, and fungi. This would provide researchers with a broader range of biocompatible materials with the ability to fight infectious diseases.
“These gels are highly cell compatible and even stimulate the health and development of human stem cells, so in the instance of looking for a new polymer materials for medical implants, seaweeds are a key candidate for the source of such materials,” Dr. Winberg said.
A recently established collaboration with UOW’s Intelligent Polymer Research Institute (IPRI), the lead node in the Australian Research Council Center of Excellence for Electrometrical Science (ACES), will delve into how the properties of seaweeds can be harnessed for medical research, particularly in 3D printed implants and for cell compatible materials with bioactive properties. Alginate, an extract from brown seaweeds, has already been used as a cell carrier by IPR scientists and their partners at St Vincent Hospital Melbourne to aid regrowth of diseased and injured tissue.
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