PRAWN, crab and lobster shells – they’re usually stored in the freezer until bin day. But the stinkiest waste item could soon be the latest in wound cover technology.
Queensland University of Technology researchers are testing powdered crustacean shells to make anti-microbial bandages to combat superbugs and promote faster healing with less scarring.
It’s hoped the product, known as chitosan, will even be able to be used as a haemostatic bandage that rapidly stops bleeding.
“Crustacean shells contain the second most common biopolymer on earth after cellulose,” said lead researcher Phong Tran.
“The shells are cheap and abundant because they are normally just rubbish that you want to get rid of as fast as possible.”
Chitosan bandages could be used as a dressing for skin wounds that are susceptible to bacterial infection and are hard to heal.
“Skin wounds caused by trauma or disease can sometimes be challenging to treat because of the widespread emergence of drug-resistant bacteria and fewer discoveries of new antibiotics,” Dr Tran said.
“Chitosan is a great material to build upon for different uses, for example, it has its own anti-microbial properties and these can be improved by incorporating different anti-microbial agents so the material has multiple mechanisms to kill bacteria, therefore making it harder for bacteria to develop resistance.”