Chitosan is a natural substance extracted from the chitin shells of crustacean. It is a linear polysaccharide comprising randomly distributed deacetylated glucosamine units and acetylated units. It has been the focus of much research in materials science for medical device applications for many years because of its biocompatibility and the potential for it to be bio-absorbed by the body given sufficient time. Similarly, collagen is another natural material, a connective tissue protein found in animals’ bodies. It too has been the target of much research given its strength and structural properties. However, collagen shows rapid biodegradation.
Now, a team from Costa Rica has developed a hybrid material from chitosan and collagen, which they suggest combines the useful properties of both materials synergistically. They say it can be fabricated into highly porous three-dimensional solids with almost any shape that can then serve as 3D scaffolds for tissue engineering applications. Living cells can grow on and within such a scaffold and the product might be used to create implant as prosthetic devices for a wide range of medical problems as well as biocompatible wound-healing materials.
The team reports that the hybrid 3D scaffold material has “improved stability, greater porosity, increased thermal stability, and mechanical properties, as well higher biodegradation as compared to single 3D scaffolds.” The team has now demonstrated that their scaffold materials can support the attachment of living cells, promote their growth, and differentiation, making them a good candidate for tissue engineering applications.
Ureña-Saborio, H., Alfaro-Viquez, E., Esquivel-Alvarado, D., Esquivel, M. and Madrigal-Carballo, S. (2018) ‘Collagen/chitosan hybrid 3D-scaffolds as potential biomaterials for tissue engineering’, Int. J. Nano and Biomaterials, Vol. 7, No. 3, pp.163–175.