Egg whites could be base for wound dressings

Alex Jones, a doctoral student in the department of textiles, merchandising and interiors, University of Georgia.
Bioplastics made from protein sources, such as albumin and whey, have shown antibacterial properties, and led to the possibility that they could be used in plastics for medical applications such as wound healing dressings, sutures, catheter tubes and drug delivery, as well as materials for food packaging.

Researchers at the University of Georgia College of Family and Consumer Sciences tested albumin, whey and soy proteins as alternatives to conventional petroleum-based plastics that pose risks of contamination.

In particular, albumin, a protein found in egg whites, demonstrated strong anti-bacterial properties when blended with a traditional plasticiser such as glycerol.

"It was found that it had complete inhibition, as in no bacteria would grow on the plastic once applied," said Alex Jones, a doctoral student in the department of textiles, merchandising and interiors. "The bacteria wouldn't be able to live on it."

One of the researchers' aims is to find ways to reduce the amount of petroleum used in traditional plastic production; another is to find a fully biodegradable bioplastic.

The albumin-glycerol blended bioplastic met both standards, Jones said. As pure protein, it will break down in a landfill and will disappear completely if placed in soil.

The next step is a deeper analysis of the albumin-based bioplastic's potential for use in the biomedical and food packaging fields. The antimicrobial properties of albumin-based bioplastics could reduce the risks of contamination in hospitals by loading the bioplastic with either drugs or food preservatives that can kill bacteria or prevent it from spreading.

The study appears in the online version of the Journal of Applied Polymer Science.

Caroline Hayes

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Err, you do know that Egg White has been used for well over 60 years as a cut and open wound covering....?

Comment Stuart Halliday, 13/04/2015

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