A collaboration among four German entities led by the Hohenstein Institute and Kelheim Fibers GmbH has successfully developed wound dressings made from bacterial alginate. The aim of the project was to develop a biotechnological process to produce alginate and then process it into fiber-based products for use in wound dressings. The project is known as AlBioTex.
The soil bacterium Azotobacter vinelandii was used as a natural alginate resource, thus avoiding the conventional, time-consuming process of obtaining the biopolymer from brown algae. It’s replaced by a sustainable biotechnological process, according to the institute.
The organizations involved in the research, in addition to the Hohenstein Institute and Kelheim Fibers, were the bio-economy company BRAIN AG in Zwingenberg and rökona Textilwerk GmbH in Tübingen, which produces highly specialized materials for medical engineering. The collaboration succeeded in mapping out—for the first time—a production and treatment process using biotechnology to produce bacterial alginate to produce fibers and manufacturing textile materials.
Alginate is a biopolymer (polysaccharide) that consists of the glycosidically bonded monomers guluronic and mannuronic acid. The range of industrial applications for the biopolymer is determined by the sequence and ratio of these two sugar components.
Alginate is particularly suitable for use in wound dressings because of its excellent biocompatibility, enormous liquid-absorption capacity and healing properties. The conventional alginate obtained from algae varies greatly in the composition of its sugar components because of environmental factors. A time-consuming preparation process is required to obtain the ultra-pure and biochemically defined alginate that is needed for medical applications. Using biotechnology to produce alginate, on the other hand, offers the option of synthesizing biopolymers which have defined properties and are of consistent quality for use in medical products.
Companies interested in alginate products made using this biotechnological process are invited to share in the success of the research partnership. There are a range of possible areas of application for which the technology could be licensed.