There’s nothing worse than a bag of stinky old prawn shells left rotting in the bin. Right?
Researchers at Queensland University of Technology have found a way of using this whiffy waste product to create a super Band-Aid that could even save shark attack victims.
The QUT team has developed wound dressings which incorporate a part of the prawn normally discarded – the shell.
When crushed and refined to remove impurities, crustacean shells form a powder known as chitosan.
Using a special technique, the QUT researchers created a chitosan dressing that kills bacteria which infect wounds, helping them heal faster.
The dressing even seems to promote growth of skin cells, making it more effective for healing and possibly other applications such as skin grafts.
QUT’s Phong Tran says new treatments like these were urgently needed to cope with the rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.
“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 says.
David Hewitt, a scientist from Biomedical Chitosan – the Queensland company which refines the substance – says it comes from waste recycled from aquaculture farms and managed fisheries.
“We are also developing our own healthcare products from chitosan, including … bandages that clot blood so that first responders to an accident or shark attack could use it to stop massive blood loss,” Dr Hewitt says.
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