Farm to Pharmacy; CASNR researchers create new medicinal use for cotton
This month the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal featured a CASNR-related research news item by Josie Musico: a biodegradable bandage. When the cotton-based product is available for widespread use, which its creators admit might not be for some time. It can be applied with medicinal ointment to a wound site. Unlike traditional bandages, it need not be removed later.
"The beauty of this approach is it's 100 percent biodegradable," said Noureddine Abidi, an associate professor with Tech's Department of Plant and Soil Science.
Yang Hu, a post-doctoral research associate, is enthusiastic about the thin film's potential to help promote healing at wound sites as it protects them from the elements. "The micropattern can guide the cell growth and distribution to get good healing and try to reduce the scar formation," he said.
To create the film-like product, Abidi and his research team alter the cotton composition. The process can be described through a series of stages. The first involves grinding raw cotton into a powder known as microcrystalline cellulose. This part is nothing new. The flour-like substance can also be used as a bulking agent in pharmaceutical and food products. The team then solubilize the powder by adding a chemical. The product at that stage resembles cloudy water but holds a thicker viscosity. It can be molded into new shapes with new uses. "You can mold it into any form depending on use," Abidi said.
At the Fiber and Biopolymer Research Institute, you'll find it molded into small aerogel pieces the size and texture of ear plugs, and into the thin film. One day the product may be sold at neighborhood pharmacies, but the scientists are quick to note it won't be tomorrow. They plan to study it further, and eventually collaborate with folks at Tech's Health Sciences Center for biomedical testing.
"It's a long way, but we're on the right track," Abidi said.
CONTACT: Eric Hequet, Department Chair, Department of Plant and Soil Science, Texas Tech University at (806) 742-2838 or firstname.lastname@example.org
1201NM14 / Editor's Note: For full text of story, go to http://lubbockonline.com/local-news/2014-11-30/plant-pharmacy-tech-researchers-create-new-medicinal-use-cotton?v
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