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What Is Chitosan?

Chitosan (KY-tuh-sin) is a biopolymer derived from the chitin (KY-tin) found in the exoskeletons of shrimp and other crustaceans. Incredibly tough yet remarkably pliable, chitin is naturally woven together into nanofiber bundles and layered to create a durable protective shell—similar to the stacked arrangement of wood fibers in plywood sheets.

WHAT CAN CHITOSAN DO?

Hemostats

Chitosan can be used to create an antibacterial gel used to stop bleeding wounds (hemostasis) by creating an absorbent, adhesive surface—even over critical injuries to vital arteries.

Bioscaffolds

Chitosan can be used in various forms (sponges, fibers, films, etc.) to create an implantable scaffold to encourage natural cell growth, used for the repair of tissue or the regeneration of bone and cartilage.

Nanoparticles

Chitosan can be used to create custom polymeric nanoparticles that enable time-released drug delivery carrier via various routes of administration, including non-parenteral (i.e. not digested) applications.

Excipients

Chitosan can be used as a drug excipient (i.e. an inactive drug-delivery medium) with greater biocompatibility and transmucosal absorption than traditional rapid-release excipient substances.

Bioplastics

Chitosan can be used to create a biodegradable plastic that can be molded, extruded or printed with high tensile strength—while also being able to fully decompose after only a few weeks.

Microfilms

Chitosan can be used to create biodegradable films that are naturally resistant to mold and other microbes, helping to potentially extend the shelf life of all kinds of perishable goods.

Flocculents

Chitosan can be used to create a highly effective flocculant (a solution that separates unwanted substances from a liquid) and has been shown to remove heavy metals like chromium and nickel from drinking water.

CHITOSAN PROPERTIES

Biocompatible

interacts with human tissue without eliciting adverse effects

Biodegradable

breaks down quickly when exposed to common enzymes

Antimicrobial

naturally resistant to bacteria, viruses and fungi

Mucoadhesive

sticks easily to mucosa linings of the mouth, lungs, intestines, etc.

Nontoxic

generally recognized as safe (GRAS) by the U.S. FDA

Antioxidant

mediates the interruption of oxidative stress on cells

Broadly speaking, chitosan is derived by removing acetyl groups from a chitin molecule. A chitosan product's degree of deacetylation (DDA) refers to the total percentage of acetyl groups which have been removed during formulation (usually between 70% and 95%). DDA is the most common differentiator between chitosan products, and trū Chitosan is capable of creating formulations across the full deacetylation spectrum according to your needs.  

WHAT'S THE DDA?

Chitin

0% deacetylated

Chitosan

fully deacetylated

Pharmaceutics (2023)

Chitosan: A potential biopolymer in drug delivery and biomedical applications

Desai, Rana, Salave, et al.

Polymers (2021)

Chitosan: An overview of its properties and applications

Aranaz, Alcántara, Conceptión Civera, et al.

International Journal of Molecular Sciences (2020)

Chitosan derivatives and their application in biomedicine

Wang, Meng, Li, et al.

Chemosphere (2021)

Applications of chitosan in environmental remediation

Pal, Pal, Nakashima, et al.

Carbohydrate Polymers (2022)

Chitosan: A review of molecular structure, bioactivities and interactions with the human body

Kou, Peters, Mucalo, et al.

Journal of Hazardous Materials (2021)

Chitosan modifications for adsorption of pollutants

Saheed, Da Oh, Suah, et al.

Selected research

Still not convinced? Check out some of the findings from the latest high-profile chitosan research published in major industry journals.

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