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CarboMat article in Campi, 16 September 2010

CarboMat is the feature of a short write-up in KTH's online personnel magazine, Campi.

CarboMat Kick-Off Mini-Symposium, 8-9 September 2010

On September 8-9, ca. thirty researchers, including graduate students, postdocs, and invited international guests, gathered in Sigtuna, north of Stockholm, for the kick-off of the CarboMat Strong Research Environment.

  • The full schedule of the meeting is available for download in PDF here.

Interview with Prof. Dieter Klemm

Prof. Dieter Klemm (left) with Prof. Vincent Bulone of CarboMat

"Great potential for nanocellulose materials," says Prof. Dieter Klemm, keynote speaker at CarboMat kickoff Sept. 8-9th in Sigtuna

Prof. Dieter Klemm, who started his work at Institute of Organic and Macromolecular Chemistry, Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena, is a pioneer in research and development of nanocellulose biomaterials for medical applications, i.e. vessel substitutes and bypass materials. He is founder and chairman of Polymet Jena Association, and research director of Jenpolymers Ltd. BASYC®.

What make nanocellulose materials so interesting?

Nanocelluloses are a new family of nature-based materials that have a great potential in the future. Nanocelluloses combine some of the most interesting structures and properties of cellulose with the nanoscale specifics like very large surface interaction. We get new types of cellulose that can be used as scaffolds in novel applications such as biocomposites, films, gels and padding, as well as in medical applications like artificial skin, wound healing and vessel substitutes.

It is a very cross-disciplinary field, and we see, among others, interesting potential to collaborate with Dr. Harry Brumer and SweTree Technology AB on bacterial nanocellulose surface modification.

But it is a long way from the lab to the market. When I started investigating nanocellulose biosynthesis 15 years ago, nobody was interested, and it was only curiosity driven research. Now we have developed some very promising applications, but we still need a lot of venture capital to take the innovations one step further.

You are using bacterial nanocellulose in vessel implants?

Yes, bacterial synthesized nanocellulose (BNC) is very pure, has high crystallinity and mechanical stability, and is easier to design during biosynthesis than cellulose synthesized in plant cell walls. BNC is biocompatible, sterilizable, and surgical manageable - and therefore a fully functional high performance biomaterial. It contains a lot of water, which is good in our medical applications.

That means, we use the nanocellulose hydrogel made from non-pathogenic bacteria also to build very thin tubes, which for example can be used as vessel implants in heart bypass surgery. Up to now, the standard surgical procedure for coronary bypasses worldwide is the autogenic transplantation of a leg vein or a thorax artery. But these are often unusable because of pre-damage and, moreover, they are limited.

With the bacterial nanocellulose vessel implants, the coronary bypass operations will become significantly better with less complication for the patient. The patients only need one operation, which also saves money. And although very thin, the vessels do not become clogged, which is very important. Jenpolymers has developed biotechnologically synthesized cellulose tubes for cardiovascular surgery, a product called BASYC®. Our investigations on vessel implants in animal experiments (rat, partially sheep) have shown that in no case they led to a thrombosis. After certification and clinical trials the application in human surgery is the ultimate goal.

- Susanne Rosén