Chitosan is the second most abundant biopolymer in the world, only less than cellulose. It is a versatile biopolymer with unique properties, and is nontoxic, biodegradable and biocompatible. Chitosan is discovered by Rouget in 1859, when the chitin was treated with hot potassium hydroxide solution. At present, chitosan is mainly extracted from shrimp shells or crab shells.

Application of Chitosans

Chitosan has various applications in a very wide range of fields due to its good biocompatibility, especially in pharmaceuticals (drug delivery, equipment and wound dressings), cosmetics, textile and food industries, and agriculture and the environment industry.

Medical Use
Chitosan is can used in medical fields. It can be used as a burn dressing and wound healing agent. After dressing gauze is treated with chitosan, the wound healing speed can be increased by 75%. Absorbable surgical sutures made of chitosan have high mechanical strength and have many advantages, which can be stored for a long time and sterilized by conventional methods, can be dyed and mixed with medicines, and can be degraded and absorbed by tissues, relieving patients from the pain of stitch removal.

Chitosan can inhibit gastric acid and ulcers, and has the effect of degrading cholesterol and triglycerides. Sulfated chitosan is similar in structure to heparin(an extremely effective anticoagulant with sulfonic acid and carboxyl groups). This heparin derivative generally has an activity equal to or even higher than that of heparin, which provides an effective way for cheap anticoagulants.

In addition, chitosan can also be used to make artificial kidney dialysis membranes and contact lenses. The microcapsules prepared from chitosan are a kind of biodegradable polymer membrane material, which is an excellent and promising medical sustained-release system.

Chitosan is one of the most frequently cited polymers in scientific research, involving various biopharmaceutical and biomedical applications including food science and technology. Considering its excellent biocompatibility, biodegradability, non-toxicity and adsorption characteristics, it has been strongly indicated as a suitable functional material.

Therefore, chitosan and its derivatives have been explored in the development of nanomaterials, bioadhesives, wound dressings, improved drug delivery systems, enteric coatings and medical devices. For example, chitosan nanofiber membranes are highly biocompatible and may support new bone formation. Chitosan is used as a potential adjuvant for intranasal vaccine delivery methods. In previous scientific research, chitosan-based nanomaterials can be used in oral drug delivery, injection drug delivery, topical drug delivery, colon-targeted drug delivery, carcinoma therapy, gene delivery, and vaccine delivery.

Author's Bio: 

As an established drug delivery company which provides customized solutions for developing and producing new, biocompatible drug delivery systems, CD Bioparticles provides a series of chitosans for global research communities to support scientists’ drug delivery studies, including Analogous Hyaluronic Acid Chitosan, Carboxymethyl Chitosan (medical grade), Chitosan (special molecular weight), Chitosan Azelate and Glycol Chitin.