Biotechnology's next high-value product could be microbial cellulose, a form of cellulose produced naturally by bacteria that already has found some successful applications in medicine, according to an article in the current issue of the American Chemical Society's Biomacromolecules, a monthly journal.
In their review of worldwide research on microbial cellulose, the University of Texas' R. Malcolm Brown Jr. and colleagues in Poland explain that it is chemically identical to the more-familiar plant cellulose, source of paper and other commercial products.
However, cellulose produced by the bacterium Acetobacter xylinum has a unique nanostructure of fibers that make it ideal as a dressing to speed wound healing and for a range of other biomedical applications.
Microbial cellulose already has been used successfully in patients with severe burns, for instance, and as a replacement for small-diameter blood vessels, the scientists point out.
Based on the review, they conclude that microbial cellulose is poised for use in a wide variety of medical devices and consumer products as soon as scientists develop a method to mass produce the material.
Materials provided by American Chemical Society. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.
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