Blog 2: Progress on the chitosan sheets enhanced with natural oils and powders against bacteria.

This project started from a conversation I had with my faculty mentor Dr. Rizzo, where I told her about my love for Earth, the environment and chemistry, and she came up with the project idea on the spot. We know that chitosan, the main substance present on the shell of crustaceans, have antibacterial properties. Why not try to enhance it with other natural substances such as oils and powders, substances that are also known to have some kind of antibacterial property, and see how it acts as a wound dressing? The incentive and excitement I got from Dr. Rizzo from the start definitely helped me in staying focused and continues helping me throughout the project.

The chitosan enhanced sheets were first tested when they were dry against E. coli bacteria and for turbidity. Results showed no E. coli growth on all of the sheets and that the sheets that had a higher amount of natural oils and/or powders had less growth on the turbidity test. Then, my professor came up with the idea of testing the sheets against bacteria while they are still wet. The last results using the wet sheets also showed no E. coli growth but we discovered something interesting. When the bacteria was placed on the wet chitosan, all the powder and/or oil that was mixed with the chitosan would concentrate exactly where the bacteria was placed and afterwards, the bacteria would not grow. Me and my professor are going to do more tests with different powders to see if the same happens to them and so, come up with an explanation for this behavior.

The future of this research project looks extremely promising and I cannot wait to learn more from it and from my faculty mentor.

Blog Post 1: The enhancement of antimicrobial and antibacterial properties of chitosan with essential oils when used as a wound dressing.

Chitin is found in the composition of the outer skeleton of insects and crustaceans. As an example, shrimp shell consists mainly of 3 components: protein, chitin and calcium carbonate, the latter being the major component. Chitin consists of around 20% of their shell composition. Chitin, after undergoing a chemical hydrolysis in concentrated alkaline solution at elevated temperatures, loses its acetyl groups, transforming into Chitosan  is nontoxic, nonallergenic and biodegradable, and Chitosan films has been tested in the medical field as a curative wound dressing not only because of that, but also because Chitosan is known to have antimicrobial and antibacterial activities. The purpose of this research is to see if these properties can be enhanced by adding essential oils and natural powders to the Chitosan sheets, since they have the same properties themselves. To answer these questions, the different Chitosan sheets are going to be tested against different types of bacteria

With this project I hope to learn more about Chitosan’s properties and how essential oils and natural powders work when combined with other compounds.