Aug. 16, 2004 Of course, not the crab itself, but its hepatopancreas, which is a gland performing functions of both liver and pancreas. And not an entire hepatopancreas, but only some of its enzymes isolated by the Moscow scientists supported by the Russian Foundation for Basic Research (RFBR) and Foundation for Assistance to Small Innovative Enterprises (FASIE).
Doctor of chemical sciences Galina Rudenskaya from the Moscow State University and her colleagues from small enterprise TRINITA have made an important discovery in medicine, thanks to funding extended by the RFBR and FASIE. The preparation based on enzymes extracted from king crab's hepatopancreas (gland performing functions of both liver and pancreas) heals scalds, sores, and trophic ulcers that were either incurable or hardly curable before. Surgeons that participate in trials are eager to get some "crab grease". But only a very small amount of the ointment has been obtained by now, and it still needs to be approved by the Pharmacological Committee. And only 100 grams of enzymes that are active components of the ointment have been isolated. However, technique for their isolation and purification has already been developed and patented.
So, the preparation is based on enzymes, so-called, proteases. The most important among them, collagenase, catalyzes the hydrolysis of collagen that is a tough fibrous protein constituent of bone, tendon, and skin. It is collagen that makes the skin resilient, water-proof, and resistant to various agents. Most active collagenases are extracted from pathogenic microorganisms causing gas gangrene. Hence, the extraction of such collagenases is a labour-consuming and risky process. But collagenase is also contained in the hepatopancreas of king crab, in non-hazardous surroundings of crab's intestines.
Collagenase is needed for the following. In case of a serious damage of the skin (a scald, scar remaining after an operation, or trophic ulcers), the wound healing is impeded by small fragments of tissues, particularly, collagen remaining there. Those cannot be decomposed to single molecules because of an absence of essential enzyme, collagenase. Hence, those fragments of tissues decay and cause necrosis. The wound heals slowly and difficultly, with the appearance of pus and ugly scars.
The preparation developed by the University chemists contains collagenase itself and some other enzymes. By the expression of Rudenskaya, "collagenase tears collagen into pieces that are further chewed by other enzymes". Afterwards, the wound healing requires a building material for a new elastic skin, which is supplied by preparation "Eikonol" developed by the enterprise TRINITA headed by V.A. Isaev. The active component of the latter is extracted from fish. Thus, all components of the medicine are obtained from food objects and don't cause undesirable side effects. Raw materials used in the medicine manufacture are cheap wastes of fishing and crabbing.
The scientists have also invented a new technique for extracting active enzymes from crab's internal organs and their purifying. This is so-called affine chromatography, for which special sorbents have been synthesized. The extract containing various necessary and unnecessary compounds moves through columns filled by the sorbents. The latter consist of a silica-containing material bond with molecules of antibiotic, whose basket-like structure catches needed enzymes, proteases, from the solution. Thus, proteases are retained in the sorbent, and all admixtures pass by. All together, that resembles a rod with bait tasty for a single fish species. Then, proteases are washed off by another solution, concentrated using a nontrivial technique developed by the scientists, and dried. Provided that obtained powder is properly stored (in a freezer at -20 degrees Celsius), its medical properties can be preserved for many years. When the laboratory technique will be adjusted to the pharmaceutical industry (the scientists believe they can do that very soon), there will be enough enzymes for everybody.
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