About this Research Topic
Nanocellulose (NC), the as nanostructured form of the most abundant organic macromolecule, is recognized among researchers as a valuable semi-product with immense potential in a variety of fields, including pharmacy and medicine. NC is produced in a variety of forms, including wood-, plant- or tunicate-extracted, top-down processed cellulose nanofibrils (CNFs) and nanocrystals (CNCs), and bottom-up, by bacteria synthesised cellulose (BC). Their common denominator is the molecular unit, large surface area, the propensity of the water-holding hydroxyl groups, the mechanical performance, bio stability and the generally accepted positive biological properties, which, however, differ significantly among different NCs. In the context of medical applications, BC is the most competitive due to its ultimate purity (lack of lignin, pectin and hemicellulose found in other NCs), easy shaping and harsh chemo-mechanical treatments-free processing, thus attracting wide research interest in regeneration medicine, including the development of artificial skin, wound dressing, blood vessels, nerve surgery, dura mater prosthesis, haemostatic material, implants for cartilage, bone repair, etc.
Science evidenced that NCs are bio-safe, i.e. non-toxic, non-irritant, hypo-allergic, non-pyrogenic, biocompatible and even bio-inert (in case of BC) materials, yet, in most reports they provide simple (mechanic) enhancing function, while lacking biological triggers for bioactive function. To this end, diverse modifications and compounding pathways of NC take place as advanced technological solutions, which can drive the application of BC in more sophisticated disciplines like tissue engineering, cell and gene therapy, etc. Potential “housing” of selected and suitable bioactive compounds or particulates within BC during the synthetic procedure while keeping in mind not to restricted BC production is one way to tackle the problem. Nonetheless, the commercial applications of NC are the ultimate target in the R&D &I chain, and the question about their efficacy and safety as medical products should be put on the front panel. In general, reports find that the semi-crystalline rod-like CNFs are safe and biocompatible materials while, in contrast, highly crystalline needle-like CNCs might be toxic and pro-inflammatory. Hence, the NC products (including composites) and their degradation products need to be carefully examined, especially in translational research where strict regulations must be adhered to ensure human benefits, i.e. efficiency and safety.
Processing and applications of different BCs for biomedical use present a non-exhaustible source of research ideas, encouraging many teams worldwide to work on it. To this end, we invite you to submit original research and review articles, as well as perspective articles, providing critical insights on the current state of the art in terms of their prospective development within short- and medium time projections, while covering the topics listed below:
• NCs processing and modifications
• NCs particles, membranes, hydrogels, and aerogels
• NCs/polymer- based composites with biomedical relevance
• Antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal NC composites
• NCs in regenerative medicine
• NCs toxicity and safety
Keywords: Bacterial Cellulose, Cellulose Nanocrystals and Nanofibrils; In Situ/Ex Situ Modification, Scaffolds, Medical Devices
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